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^                                      H:.  THURSTON 










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EDGAR   THURSTON,   c.i.e., 

Superintendent,  Madras  Government  Museum  ;  Correspondant  Etranger, 

Soci6t6|d'Anthropologie  de  Paris;  Socio  Corrispondants, 

Societa  Romana  di  Anthropologia. 


K.    RANGACHARI,   m.a., 

of  the  Madras  Governmont  Museum. 






fJIALLI  OR  VANNIYAN.— Writing  concerning 
this  caste  the  Census  Superintendent,  i87i> 
records  that  "a  book  has  been  written  by  a 
native  to  show  that  the  Pallis  (Pullies  or  Vanniar)  of  the 
south  are  descendants  of  the  fire  races  (Agnikulas)  of 
the  Kshatriyas,  and  that  the  Tamil  Pullies  were  at  one 
time  the  shepherd  kings  of  Egypt."  At  the  time  of  the 
census,  1871,  a  petition  was  submitted  to  Government  by 
representatives  of  the  caste,  praying  that  they  might  be 
classified  as  Kshatriyas,  and  twenty  years  later,  in  con- 
nection with  the  census,  1891,  a  book  entitled  *  Vannikula 
Vilakkam  :  a  treatise  on  the  Vanniya  caste, '  was  compiled 
by  Mr.  T.  Aiyakannu  Nayakar,  in  support  of  the  caste 
claim  to  be  returned  as  Kshatriyas,  for  details  concerning 
which  claim  I  must  refer  the  reader  to  the  book  itself. 
In  1907,  a  book  entitled  Varuna  Darpanam  (Mirror  of 
Castes)  was  published,  in  which  an  attempt  is  made  to 
connect  the  caste  with  the  Pallavas. 

Kulasekhara,  one  of  the  early  Travancore  kings,  and 
one  of  the  most  renowned  Alwars  reverenced  by  the  Sri 
Vaishnava  community  in  Southern  India,  is  claimed  by 
the  Pallis  as  a  king  of  their  caste.  Even  now,  at  the 
Parthasarathi  temple  in  Triplicane  (in  the  city  of 
Madras),  which  according  to  inscriptions  is  a  Pallava 



temple,  Pallis  celebrate  his  anniversary  with  great  eclat. 
The  Pallis  of  Komalesvaranpettah  in  the  city  of  Madras 
have  a  Kulasekhara  Perumal  Sabha,  which  manages  the 
celebration  of  the  anniversary.  The  temple  has  recently 
been  converted  at  considerable  cost  into  a  temple  for  the 
great  Alwar.  A  similar  celebration  is  held  at  the 
Chintadripettah  Adikesava  Perumal  temple  in  Madras. 
The  Pallis  have  the  right  to  present  the  most  important 
camphor  offering  of  the  Mylapore  Siva  temple.  They 
allege  that  the  temple  was  originally  theirs,  but  by 
degrees  they  lost  their  hold  over  it  until  this  bare  right 
was  left  to  them.  Some  years  ago,  there  was  a  dispute 
concerning  the  exercise  of  this  right,  and  the  case  came 
before  the  High  Court  of  Madras,  which  decided  the 
point  at  issue  in  favour  of  the  Pallis.  One  of  the  principal 
gopuras  (pyramidal  towers)  of  the  Ekamranatha  temple 
at  Big  Conjeeveram,  the  ancient  capital  of  the  Pallavas, 
is  known  as  Palligopuram.  The  Pallis  of  that  town 
claim  it  as  their  own,  and  repair  it  from  time  to  time. 
In  like  manner,  they  claim  that  the  founder  of  the 
Chidambaram  temple,  by  name  Sweta  Varman,  subse- 
quently known  as  Hiranya  Varman  (sixth  century  A.D.) 
was  a  Pallava  king.  At  Pichavaram,  four  miles  east  of 
Chidambaram,  lives  a  Palli  family,  which  claims  to  be 
descended  from  Hiranya  Varman.  A  curious  ceremony 
is  even  now  celebrated  at  the  Chidambaram  temple,  on 
the  steps  leading  to  the  central  sanctuary.  As  soon  as 
the  eldest  son  of  this  family  is  married,  he  and  his  wife, 
accompanied  by  a  local  Vellala,  repair  to  the  sacred 
shrine,  and  there,  amidst  crowds  of  their  castemen  and 
others,  a  homam  (sacrificial  fire)  is  raised,  and  offerings 
are  made  to  it.  The  couple  are  then  anointed  with  nine 
different  kinds  of  holy  water,  and  the  Vellala  places  the 
temple  crown  on  their  heads.     The  Vellala  who  officiates 


at  this  ceremony,  assisted  by  the  temple  priests,  is  said 
to  belong  to  the  family  of  a  former  minister  of  a  descend- 
ant of  Hiranya  Varman.  It  is  said  that,  as  the  ceremony 
is  a  costly  one,  and  the  expenses  have  to  be  paid  by  the 
individual  who  undergoes  it,  it  often  happens  that  the 
eldest  son  of  the  family  has  to  remain  a  bachelor  for  half 
his  lifetime.  The  Pallis  who  reside  at  St.  Thom^  in  the 
city  of  Madras  allege  that  they  became  Christians,  with 
their  King  Kandappa  Raja,  who,  they  say,  ruled  over 
Mylapore  during  the  time  of  the  visit  of  St.  Thomas.  In 
1907,  Mr.  T.  Varadappa  Nayakar,  the  only  High  Court 
Vakil  (pleader)  among  the  Palli  community  practising  in 
Madras,  brought  out  a  Tamil  book  on  the  history  of  the 
connection  of  the  caste  with  the  ancient  Pallava  kings. 

In  reply  to  one  of  a  series  of  questions  promulgated 
by  the  Census  Superintendent,  it  was  stated  that  *'  the 
caste  is  known  by  the  following  names  : — Agnikulas  and 
Vanniyas.  The  etymology  of  these  is  the  same,  being 
derived  from  the  Sanskrit  Agni  or  Vahni,  meaning  fire. 
The  following,  taken  from  Dr.  Oppert's  article  on  the 
original  inhabitants  of  Bharatavarsa  or  India,  explains 
the  name  of  the  caste  with  its  etymology : — '  The  word 
Vanniyan  is  generally  derived  from  the  Sanskrit  Vahni, 
fire.  Agni,  the  god  of  fire,  is  connected  with  regal 
office,  as  kings  hold  in  their  hands  the  fire-wheel  or 
Agneya-chakra,  and  the  Vanniyas  urge  in  support  of  their 
name  the  regal  descent  they  claim.'  The  existence  of 
these  fire  races,  Agnikula  or  Vahnikula  (Vanniya),  in 
North  and  South  India  is  a  remarkable  fact.  No  one  can 
refuse  to  a  scion  of  the  non-Aryan  warrior  tribe  the  title 
of  Rajputra,  but  in  so  doing  we  establish  at  once  Aryan 
and  non-Aryan  Rajaputras  or  Rajputs.  The  Vanniyan 
of  South  India  may  be  accepted  as  a  representative  of 
the  non-Aryan  Rajput  element" 

VI-I  B 


The  name  Vanniyan  is,  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  writes,* 
"  derived  from  the  Sanskrit  vanhi  (fire)  in  consequence 
of  the  following  legend.  In  the  olden  times,  two  giants 
named  Vatapi  and  Mahi,  worshipped  Brahma  with  such 
devotion  that  they  obtained  from  him  immunity  from 
death  from  every  cause  save  fire,  which  element  they 
had  carelessly  omitted  to  include  in  their  enumeration. 
Protected  thus,  they  harried  the  country,  and  Vatapi 
went  the  length  of  swallowing  Vayu,  the  god  of  the 
winds,  while  Mahi  devoured  the  sun.  The  earth  was 
therefore  enveloped  in  perpetual  darkness  and  stillness, 
a  condition  of  affairs  which  struck  terror  into  the  minds 
of  the  devatas,  and  led  them  to  appeal  to  Brahma.  He, 
recollecting  the  omission  made  by  the  giants,  directed 
his  suppliants  to  desire  the  rishi  Jambava  Mahamuni  to 
perform  a  yagam,  or  sacrifice  by  fire.  The  order  having 
been  obeyed,  armed  horse  men  sprung  from  the  flames, 
who  undertook  twelve  expeditions  against  Vatapi  and 
Mahi,  whom  they  first  destroyed,  and  afterwards  released 
Vayu  and  the  sun  from  their  bodies.  Their  leader  then 
assumed  the  government  of  the  country  under  the  name 
Rudra  Vanniya  Maharaja,  who  had  five  sons,  the 
ancestors  of  the  Vanniya  caste.  These  facts  are  said  to 
be  recorded  in  the  Vaidiswara  temple  in  the  Tanjore 

The  Vaidiswara  temple  here  referred  to  is  the 
Vaidiswara  kovil  near  Shiyali.  Mr.  Stuart  adds  that 
"  this  tradition  alludes  to  the  destruction  of  the  city  of 
Vapi  by  Narasimha  Varma,  king  of  the  Pallis  or 
Pallavas."  Vapi,  or  Va-api,  was  the  ancient  name  of 
Vatapi  or  Badami  in  the  Bombay  Presidency.  It  was 
the  capital  of  the  Chalukyas,  who,  during  the  seventh 

*  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 


century,  were  at  feud  with  the  Pallavas  of  the  south. 
"The  son  of  Mahendra  Varman  I,"  writes  Rai  Bahadur 
V.  Venkayya,  "was  Narasimha  Varman  I,  who  retrieved 
the  fortunes  of  the  family  by  repeatedly  defeating  the 
Cholas,  Keralas,  Kalabhras,  and  Pandyas.  He  also 
claims  to  have  written  the  word  victory  as  on  a  plate  on 
Pulikesin's  *  back,  which  was  caused  to  be  visible  {i.e., 
which  was  turned  in  flight  after  defeat)  at  several  battles. 
Narasimha  Varman  carried  the  war  into  Chalukyan 
territory,  and  actually  captured  Vatapi  their  capital. 
This  claim  of  his  is  established  by  an  inscription  found 
at  Badami,  from  which  it  appears  that  Narasimha  Varman 
bore  the  title  Mahamalla.  In  later  times,  too,  this  Pallava 
king  was  known  as  Vatapi  Konda  Narasingapottaraiyan. 
Dr.  Fleet  assigns  the  capture  of  the  Chalukya  capital  to 
about  A.D.  642.  The  war  of  Narasimha  Varman  with 
Pulikesin  is  mentioned  in  the  Sinhalese  chronicle 
Mahavamsa.  It  is  also  hinted  at  in  the  Tamil  Periya- 
puranam.  The  well-known  saint  Siruttonda,  who  had 
his  only  son  cut  up  and  cooked  in  order  to  satisfy  the 
appetite  of  the  god  Siva  disguised  as  a  devotee,  is  said 
to  have  reduced  to  dust  the  city  of  Vatapi  for  his  royal 
master,  who  could  be  no  other  than  the  Pallava  king 
Narasimha  Varman." 

I  gather,  from  a  note  by  Mr.  F.  R.  Hemingway,  that 
the  Pallis  "  tell  a  long  story  of  how  they  are  descendants 
of  one  Vira  Vanniyan,  who  was  created  by  a  sage  named 
Sambuha  when  he  was  destroying  the  two  demons  named 
Vatapi  and  Enatapi.  This  Vira  Vanniyan  married  a 
daughter  of  the  god  Indra,  and  had  five  sons,  named 
Rudra,  Brahma,  Krishna,  Sambuha,  and  Kai,  whose 
descendants  now  live  respectively  in  the  country  north 

♦  Pulikesin  II,  the  Chalukyan  King  of  Badami. 


of  the  Palar  in  the  Cauvery  delta,  between  the  Palar  and 
Pennar.  They  have  written  a  Puranam  and  a  drama 
bearing  on  this  tale.  They  declare  that  they  are  superior 
to  Brahmans,  since,  while  the  latter  must  be  invested 
with  the  sacred  thread  after  birth,  they  bring  their  sacred 
thread  with  them  at  birth  itself." 

"  The  Vanniyans,"  Mr.  Nelson  states,*  "  are  at  the 
present  time  a  small  and  obscure  agricultural  caste,  but 
there  is  reason  to  believe  that  they  are  descendants  of 
ancestors  who,  in  former  times,  held  a  good  position 
among  the  tribes  of  South  India.  A  manuscript, 
abstracted  at  page  90  of  the  Catalogue  raisonn^ 
(Mackenzie  Manuscripts),  states  that  the  Vanniyans 
belong  to  the  Agnikula,  and  are  descended  from  the 
Muni  Sambhu  ;  and  that  they  gained  victories  by  means 
of  their  skill  in  archery.  And  another  manuscript, 
abstracted  at  page  427,  shows  that  two  of  their  chiefs 
enjoyed  considerable  power,  and  refused  to  pay  the 
customary  tribute  to  the  Rayar,  who  was  for  a  long 
time  unable  to  reduce  them  to  submission.  Armies 
of  Vanniyans  are  often  mentioned  in  Ceylon  annals. 
And  a  Hindu  History  of  Ceylon,  translated  in  the  Royal 
As.  Soc.  Journal,  Vol.  XXIV,  states  that,  in  the  year 
3300  of  the  Kali  Yuga,  a  Pandya  princess  went  over 
to  Ceylon,  and  married  its  king,  and  was  accompanied 
by  sixty  bands  of  Vanniyans." 

The  terms  Vanni  and  Vanniyan  are  used  in  Tamil 
poems  to  denote  king.  Thus,  in  the  classical  Tamil 
poem  Kalladam,  which  has  been  attributed  to  the 
time  of  Tiruvalluvar,  the  author  of  the  sacred  Kural, 
Vanni  is  used  in  the  sense  of  king.  Kamban,  the  author 
of  the  Tamil   Ramayana,  uses  it  in  a  similar  sense.     In 

*  Manual  of  the  Madura  district. 


an  inscription  dated   1189  A.D.,  published  by   Dr.  E. 
Hultzsch,*  Vanniya  Nayan  appears  among  the  titles  of 
the  local  chief  of  Tiruchchuram,  who  made  a  grant  of 
land  to  the  Vishnu  temple  at  Manimangalam.     Tiruch- 
churam   is   identical    with  Tiruvidaichuram  about  four 
miles  south-east  of  Chingleput,  where  there  is  a  ruined 
fort,  and  also  a  Siva  temple  celebrated  in  the  hymns 
of  Tirugnana  Sambandhar,  the  great  Saiva  saint  who 
lived  in  the  9th  century.     Local  tradition,   confirmed  by 
one  of  the  Mackenzie  manuscripts,!  says  that  this  place 
was,  during  the  time  of  the  Vijayanagar  King  Krishna 
Raya(i509 — 30  A.  D.),  ruled  over  by  two  feudal  chiefs  of 
the  Vanniya  caste  named  Kandavarayan  and  Sendava- 
rayan.     They,  it  is  said,  neglected  to  pay  tribute  to  their 
sovereign  lord,    who   sent   an  army   to  exact    it.     The 
brothers  proved  invincible,  but  one  of  their  dancing-girls 
was  guilty  of  treachery.     Acting  under  instructions,  she 
poisoned    Kandavarayan.     His    brother    Sendavarayan 
caught  hold  of  her  and  her  children,  and  drowned  them 
in  the  local  tank.     The  tank  and  the  hillock  close  by 
still  go  by  the  name  of  Kuppichi  kulam  and  Kuppichi 
kunru,  after  Kuppi  the  dancing-girl.     An  inscription  of 
the  Vijayanagar  king  Deva  Raya   II  (14 19 — 44  A.D.) 
gives  him  the  title  of  the  lord  who  took  the  heads  of  the 
eighteen  Vanniyas.J     This    inscription  records  a  grant 
by  one  Muttayya  Nayakan,  son  of  Mukka  Nayakan  of 
Vanniraya  gotram.      Another  inscription,  §  dated    1456 
A.D.,    states    that,    when   one  Raja  Vallabha   ruled  at 
Conjeeveram,  a  general,  named  Vanniya  Chinna  Pillai, 
obtained   a  piece   of  land  at   Sattankad  near    Madras. 

*  South  Indian  Inscriptions,  III,  31,  page  82. 
t  In  the  Oriental  Manuscripts  Library,  Madras. 

X  J.  Burgess.     Archasological  Survey.     Tamil  and  Sanskrit  Inscriptions,  No. 
II,  p.  150. 

§  /did.     No.  12,  p.  152. 


Reference  is  made  by  Orme  *  to  the  assistance  which 
the  Vaniah  of  Sevagherry  gave  Muhammad  Yusuf  in 
his  reduction  of  Tinnevelly  in  1757.  The  Vaniah  here 
referred  to  is  the  Zamindar  of  Sivagiri  in  the  Tinnevelly 
district,  a  Vanniya  by  caste.  Vanniyas  are  mentioned  in 
Ceylon  archives.  Wanni  is  the  name  of  a  district  in 
Ceylon.  It  is,  Mr.  W.  Hamilton  writes,!  "situated 
towards  Trincomalee  in  the  north-east  quarter.  At 
different  periods  its  Wannies  or  princes,  taking  advan- 
tage of  the  wars  between  the  Candian  sovereigns  and 
their  European  enemies,  endeavoured  to  establish  an 
authority  independent  of  both,  but  they  finally,  after 
their  country  had  been  much  desolated  by  all  parties, 
submitted  to  the  Dutch."  Further,  Sir  J.  E.  Tennent 
writes,  J  that  "  in  modern  times,  the  Wanny  was  governed 
by  native  princes  styled  Wannyahs,  and  occasionally  by 
females  with  the  title  of  Wunniches." 

The  terms  Sambhu  and  Sambhava  Rayan  are 
connected  with  the  Pall  is.  The  story  goes  that  Agni 
was  the  original  ancestor  of  all  kings.  His  son  was 
Sambhu,  whose  descendants  called  themselves  Sambhu- 
kula,  or  those  of  the  Sambhu  family.  Some  inscriptions  § 
of  the  time  of  the  Chola  kings  Kulottunga  HI  and  Raja 
Raja  ni  record  Sambukula  Perumal  Sambuvarayan  and 
Alagiya  Pallavan  Edirili  Sola  Sambuvarayan  as  titles  of 
local  chiefs.  A  well-known  verse  of  Irattayar  in  praise 
of  Conjeeveram  Ekamranathaswami  refers  to  the  Pallava 
king  as  being  of  the  Sambu  race.  The  later  descendants 
of  the  Pallavas  apparently  took  Sambuvarayar  and  its 

•  History  of  the  Military  Transactions  of  the  British  Nation  in  Indostan, 

t  Geographical,  statistical,  and  historical  description  of  Hindostan  and 
the  adjacent  countries,  1820. 

%  Ceylon,  i860. 

§  South  Indian  Inscriptions,  i,  86-7,  105,  136,  and  III,  I,  121,  123. 





allied  forms  as  their  titles,  as  the  Pallis  in  Tanjore  and 
South  Arcot  still  do.  At  Conjeeveram  there  lives  the 
family  of  the  Mahanattar  of  the  Vanniyans,  which  calls 
itself  "  of  the  family  of  Vira  Sambu." 

"The  name  Vanniyan,"  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  writes,* 
seems  to  have  been  introduced  by  the  Brahmans, 
possibly  to  gratify  the  desire  of  the  Pallis  for  genealogical 
distinction.  Padaiyachi  means  a  soldier,  and  is  also  of 
late  origin.  That  the  Pallis  were  once  an  influential 
and  independent  community  may  be  admitted,,  and  in 
their  present  desire  to  be  classed  as  Kshatriyas  they 
are  merely  giving  expression  to  this  belief,  but,  unless 
an  entirely  new  meaning  is  to  be  given  to  the  term 
Kshatriya,  their  claim  must  be  dismissed  as  absurd. 
After  the  fall  of  the  Pallava  dynasty,  the  Pallis  became 
agricultural  servants  under  the  Vellalas,  and  it  is  only 
since  the  advent  of  British  rule  that  they  have  begun  to 
assert  their  claims  to  a  higher  position."  Further,  Mr. 
W.  Francis  writes  t  that  "  this  caste  has  been  referred 
to  as  being  one  of  those  which  are  claiming  for  them- 
selves a  position  higher  than  that  which  Hindu  society 
is  inclined  to  accord  them.  Their  ancestors  were  socially 
superior  to  themselves,  but  they  do  not  content  them- 
selves with  stating  this,  but  in  places  are  taking  to 
wearing  the  sacred  thread  of  the  twice-born,  and  claim 
to  be  Kshatriyas.  They  have  published  pamphlets  to 
prove  their  descent  from  that  caste,  and  they  returned 
themselves  in  thousands,  especially  in  Godavari,  as 
Agnikula  Kshatriyas  or  Vannikula  Kshatriyas,  meaning 
Kshatriyas  of  the  fire  race."  "  As  a  relic,"  it  has  been 
said,J  "  of  the  origin  of  the  Vannikula  Kshatriyas  from 
fire,  the  fire-pot,  which  comes  in  procession  on  a  fixed 

•  Madras  Census  Report,  1891.  f  Madras  Census  Report,  1901. 

X  Vannikula  Vilakkam. 


day  during  the  annual  festivities  of  Draupadi  and  other 
goddesses,  is  borne  on  the  head  of  a  Vanniya.  Also,  in 
dramatic  plays,  the  king  personae  {sic)  has  always  been 
taken  by  a  Kshatriya,  who  is  generally  a  Vanniya. 
These  peculiarities,  however,  are  becoming  common  now- 
a-days,  when  privileges  peculiar  to  one  caste  are  being 
trenched  upon  by  other  caste  men.  In  the  Tirupporur 
temple,  the  practice  of  beating  the  mazhu  (red-hot  iron) 
is  done  by  a  dancing-girl  serving  the  Vanniya  caste. 
The  privilege  of  treading  on  the  fire  is  also  peculiar  to 
the  Vanniyas."  It  is  recorded  by  Mr.  Francis  *  that,  in 
the  South  Arcot  district,  "  Draupadi's  temples  are  very 
numerous,  and  the  priest  at  them  is  generally  a  Palli  by 
caste,  and  Pallis  take  the  leading  part  in  the  ceremonies 
at  them.  Why  this  should  be  so  is  not  clear.  The 
Pallis  say  it  is  because  both  the  Pandava  brothers  and 
themselves  were  born  of  fire,  and  are  therefore  related. 
Festivals  to  Draupadi  always  involve  two  points  of  ritual 
— the  recital  or  acting  of  a  part  of  the  Mahabharata  and 
a  fire-walking  ceremony.  The  first  of  these  is  usually 
done  by  the  Pallis,  who  are  very  fond  of  the  great  epic, 
and  many  of  whom  know  it  uncommonly  well.  [In  the 
city  of  Madras  there  are  several  Draupadi  Amman 
temples  belonging  to  the  Pallis.  The  fire-walking 
ceremony  cannot  be  observed  thereat  without  the  help 
of  a  member  of  this  caste,  who  is  the  first  to  walk  over 
the  hot  ashes.] 

Kuvvakkam  is  known  for  its  festival  to  Aravan  (more 
correctly  Iravan)  or  Kuttandar,  which  is  one  of  the  most 
popular  feasts  with  Sudras  in  the  whole  district. 
Aravan  was  the  son  of  Arjuna,  one  of  the  five  Pandava 
brothers.     Local  tradition  says  that,  when  the  great  war 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  South  Arcot  district. 


which  is  described  in  the  Mahabharata  was  about  to 
begin,  the  Kauravas,  the  opponents  of  the  Pandavas, 
sacrificed,  to  bring  them  success,  a  white  elephant.  The 
Pandavas  were  in  despair  of  being  able  to  find  any  such 
uncommon  object  with  which  to  propitiate  the  gods, 
until  Arjuna  suggested  that  they  should  offer  up  his  son 
Aravan.  Aravan  agreed  to  yield  his  life  for  the  good 
of  the  cause,  and,  when  eventually  the  Pandavas  were 
victorious,  he  was  deified  for  the  self-abnegation  which 
had  thus  brought  his  side  success.  Since  he  died  in  his 
youth,  before  he  had  been  married,  it  is  held  to  please 
him  if  men,  even  though  grown  up  and  already  wedded, 
come  now  and  offer  to  espouse  him,  and  men  who  are 
afflicted  with  serious  diseases  take  a  vow  to  marry  him 
at  his  annual  festival  in  the  hope  of  thereby  being  cured. 
The  festival  occurs  in  May,  and  for  eighteen  nights 
the  Mahabharata  is  recited  by  a  Palli,  large  numbers 
of  people,  especially  of  that  caste,  assembling  to  hear 
it  read.  On  the  eighteenth  night,  a  wooden  image  of 
Kuttandar  is  taken  to  a  tope  (grove),  and  seated  there. 
This  is  the  signal  for  the  sacrifice  of  an  enormous  number 
of  fowls.  Every  one  who  comes  brings  one  or  two,  and 
the  number  killed  runs  literally  into  thousands.  Such 
sacrifices  are  most  uncommon  in  South  Arcot,  though 
frequent  enough  in  other  parts  of  the  Presidency — the 
Ceded  Districts  for  example — and  this  instance  is  note- 
worthy. While  this  is  going  on,  all  the  men  who  have 
taken  vows  to  be  married  to  the  deity  appear  before  his 
image  dressed  like  women,  make  obeisance,  offer  to  the 
priest  (who  is  a  Palli  by  caste)  a  few  annas,  and  give 
into  his  hands  the  talis  (marriage  badges)  which  they 
have  brought  with  them.  These  the  priest,  as  represent- 
ing the  God,  ties  round  their  necks.  The  God  is  brought 
back  to  his  shrine  that  night,  and  when  in  front  of  the 


building  he  is  hidden  by  a  cloth  beingl  held  before  him. 
This  symbolises  the  sacrifice  of  Aravan,  and  the  men 
who  have  just  been  married  to  him  set  up  loud  lamenta- 
tions at  the  death  of  their  husband.  Similar  vows  are 
taken  and  ceremonies  performed,  it  is  said,  at  the  shrines 
to  Kuttandar  at  Kottattai  (two  miles  north-west  of  Porto 
Novo),  and  Adivarahanattum  (five  miles  north-west  of 
Chidambaram),  and,  in  recent  years,  at  Tiruvarkkulam 
(one  mile  east  of  the  latter  place) ;  other  cases  probably 

The  Pallis,  Mr.  Francis  writes  further,  *  "as  far  back 
as  1833  tried  to  procure  a  decree  in  Pondicherry, 
declaring  that  they  were  not  a  low  caste,  and  of  late 
years  they  have,  in  this  (South  Arcot)  district,  been 
closely  bound  together  by  an  organisation  managed  by 
one  of  their  caste,  who  was  a  prominent  person  in  these 
parts.  In  South  Arcot  they  take  a  somewhat  higher 
social  rank  than  in  other  places — Tanjore,  for  example — 
and  their  esprit  de  corps  is  now  surprisingly  strong. 
They  are  tending  gradually  to  approach  the  Brahmanical 
standard  of  social  conduct,  discouraging  adult  marri- 
age, meat-eating,  and  widow  re-marriage,  and  they  also 
actively  repress  open  immorality  or  other  social  sins, 
which  might  serve  to  give  the  community  a  bad  name. 
In  1904  a  document  came  before  one  of  the  courts,  which 
showed  that,  in  the  year  previous,  the  representatives  of 
the  caste  in  thirty-four  villages  in  this  district  had  bound 
themselves  in  writing,  under  penalty  of  excommunication, 
to  refrain  (except  with  the  consent  of  all  parties)  from 
the  practices  formerly  in  existence  of  marrying  two 
wives,  and  of  allowing  a  woman  to  marry  again  during 
the  lifetime   of  her  first   husband.     Some  of  the  caste 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  South  Arcot  district. 


have  taken  to  calling  themselves  Vannikula  Kshatriyas 
or  Agnikula  Kshatriyas,  and  others  even  declare  that 
they  are  Brahmans.  These  last  always  wear  the  sacred 
thread,  tie  their  cloths  in  the  Brahman  fashion  (though 
their  women  do  not  follow  the  Brahman  ladies  in  this 
matter),  forbid  widow  remarriage,  and  are  vegetarians." 

Some  Palli  Poligars  have  very  high-sounding  names, 
such  as  Agni  Kudirai  Eriya  Raya  Ravutha  Minda 
Nainar,  i.e.,  Nainar  who  conquered  Raya  Ravutha  and 
mounted  a  fire  horse.  This  name  is  said  to  comme- 
morate a  contest  between  a  Palli  and  a  Ravutha,  at  which 
the  former  sat  on  a  red-hot  metal  horse.  Further  names 
are  Samidurai  Surappa  Sozhaganar  and  Anjada  Singam 
(fearless  lion).  Some  Pallis  have  adopted  Gupta  as 
a  title. 

A  few  Palli  families  now  maintain  a  temple  of  their 
own,  dedicated  to  Srinivasa,  at  the  village  of  Kumalam 
in  the  South  Arcot  district,  live  round  the  temple,  and 
are  largely  dependent  on  it  for  their  livelihood.  Most 
of  them  dress  exactly  like  the  temple  Battars,  and  a 
stranger  would  certainly  take  them  for  Battar  Brahmans. 
Some  of  them  are  well  versed  in  the  temple  ritual,  and 
their  youths  are  being  taught  the  Sandyavandhana 
(morning  prayer)  and  Vedas  by  a  Brahman  priest. 
Ordinary  Palli  girls  are  taken  by  them  in  marriage,  but 
their  own  girls  are  not  allowed  to  marry  ordinary  Pallis  ; 
and,  as  a  result  of  this  practice  of  hypergamy,  the 
Kumalam  men  sometimes  have  to  take  to  themselves 
more  than  one  wife,  in  order  that  their  young  women 
may  be  provided  with  husbands.  These  Kumalam  Pallis 
are  regarded  as  priests  of  the  Pallis,  and  style  themselves 
Kovilar,  or  temple  people.  But,  by  other  castes,  they 
are  nicknamed  Kumalam  Brahmans.  They  claim  to  be 
Kshatriyas,  and  have  adopted  the  title  Rayar. 


Other  titles,  "  indicating  authority,  bravery,  and 
superiority,"  assumed  by  Pallis  are  Nayakar,  Varma, 
Padaiyachi  (head  of  an  army),  Kandar,  Chera,  Chola, 
Pandya,  Nayanar,  Udaiyar,  Samburayar,  etc.*  Still 
further  titles  are  Pillai,  Reddi,  Goundan,  and  Kavandan. 
Some  say  that  they  belong  to  the  Chola  race,  and  that, 
as  such,  they  should  be  called  Chembians.t  Iranya 
Varma,  the  name  of  one  of  the  early  Pallava  kings,  was 
returned  as  their  caste  by  certain  wealthy  Pallis,  who 
also  gave  themselves  the  title  of  S5lakanar  (descendant 
of  Chola  kings)  at  the  census,  1901. 

In  reply  to  a  question  by  the  Census  Superintendent, 
1 89 1,  as  to  the  names  of  the  sub-divisions  of  the  caste,  it 
was  stated  that  "the  Vanniyans  are  either  of  the  solar 
and  lunar  or  Agnikula  race,  or  Ruthra  Vanniyar,  Krishna 
Vanniyar,  Samboo  Vanniyar,  Brahma  Vanniyar,  and 
Indra  Vanniyar."  The  most  important  of  the  sub- 
divisions returned  at  the  census  were  Agamudaiyan, 
Agni,  Arasu  (Raja),  Kshatriya,  Nagavadam  (cobra's 
hood,  or  ear  ornament  of  that  shape),  Nattaman,  Olai 
(palm  leaf),  Pandamuttu,  and  Perumal  gotra.  Panda- 
muttu  is  made  by  Winslow  to  mean  torches  arranged 
so  as  to  represent  an  elephant.  But  the  Pallis  derive 
the  name  from  panda  muttu,  or  touching  the  pandal,  in 
reference  to  the  pile  of  marriage  pots  reaching  to  the 
top  of  the  pandal.  The  lowest  pet  is  decorated  with 
figures  of  elephants  and  horses.  At  a  marriage  among 
the  Pandamuttu  Pallis,  the  bride  and  bridegroom,  in 
token  of  their  Kshatriya  descent,  are  seated  on  a  raised 
dais,  which  represents  a  simhasanam  or  throne.  The 
bride  wears  a  necklace  of  glass  beads  with  the  tali,  and 
the   officiating   priest    is   a   Telugu    Brahman.      Other 

*  Vannikula  Vilakkam.  f  Gazetteer  of  the  Tanjore  district. 


sub-castes  of  the  PalHs,  recorded  in  the  Census  Report, 
1 90 1,  are  Kallangi  in  Chlngleput,  bearing  the  title  Reddi, 
and  Kallaveli,  or  Kalian's  fence,  in  the  Madura  district. 
The  occupational  title  Kottan  (bricklayer)  was  returned 
by  some  Pallis  in  Coimbatore.  In  the  Salem  district 
some  Pallis  are  divided  into  Anju-nal  (five  days)  and 
Pannendu-nal  (twelve  days),  according  as  they  perform 
the  final  death  ceremonies  on  the  fifth  or  twelfth  day 
after  death,  to  distinguish  them  from  those  who  perform 
them  on  the  sixteenth  day.*  Another  division  of 
Pallis  in  the  Salem  district  is  based  on  the  kind  of  ear 
ornament  which  is  worn.  The  Olai  Pallis  wear  a 
circular  ornament  (olai),  and  the  Nagavadam  Pallis  wear 
an  ornament  in  shape  like  a  cobra  and  called  nagavadam. 

The  Pallis  are  classed  with  the  left-hand  section. 
But  the  Census  Superintendent,  1871,  records  that  "  the 
wives  of  the  agricultural  labourers  (Pallis)  side  with  the 
left  hand,  while  the  husbands  help  in  fighting  the  battles 
of  the  right ;  and  the  shoe-makers'  (Chakkiliyan)  wives 
also  take  the  side  opposed  to  their  husbands.  During 
these  factional  disturbances,  the  ladies  deny  to  their 
husbands  all  the  privileges  of  the  connubial  state."  This 
has  not,  however,  been  confirmed  in  recent  investigations 
into  the  customs  of  the  caste. 

The  Pallis  are  Saivites  or  Vaishnavites,  but  are  also 
demonolaters,  and  worship  Mutyalamma,  Mariamma, 
Ayanar,  Muneswara,  Ankalamma,  and  other  minor 
deities.  Writing  nearly  a  century  ago  concerning  the 
Vana  Pallis  settled  at  Kolar  in  Mysore,  Buchanan  statesf 
that  '*  they  are  much  addicted  to  the  worship  of  the 
saktis,  or  destructive  powers,  and  endeavour  to  avert 
their  wrath  by  bloody  sacrifices.     These  are  performed 

•  Manual  of  the  Salem  district. 
t  Journey  through  Mysore,  Canara,  and  Malabar. 


by  cutting  off  the  animal's  head  before  the  door  of  the 
temple,  and  invoking  the  deity  to  partake  of  the  sacrifice. 
There  is  no  altar,  nor  is  the  blood  sprinkled  on  the 
image,  and  the  body  serves  the  votaries  for  a  feast. 
The  Pallivanlu  have  temples  dedicated  to  a  female  spirit 
of  this  kind  named  Mutialamma,  and  served  by  pujaris 
(priests)  of  their  own  caste.  They  also  offer  sacrifices 
to  Mariamma,  whose  pujaris  are  Kurubaru." 

Huge  human  figures,  representing  Mannarswami  in 
a  sitting  posture,  constructed  of  bricks  and  mortar,  and 
painted,  are  conspicuous  objects  in  the  vicinity  of  the 
Lawrence  Asylum  Press,  Mount  Road,  and  in  the 
Kottawal  bazar,  Madras.  At  the  village  of  Tirumala- 
vayal  near  Avadi,  there  is  a  similar  figure  as  tall  as  a 
palmyra  palm,  with  a  shrine  of  Pachaiamman  close  by. 
Mannarswami  is  worshipped  mainly  by  Pallis  and  Beri 
Chettis.  An  annual  festival  is  held  in  honour  of  Pachai- 
amman and  Mannarswami,  in  which  the  Beri  Chettis  take 
a  prominent  part. 

During  the  festivals  of  village  deities,  the  goddess  is 
frequently  represented  by  a  pile  of  seven  pots,  called 
karagam,  decorated  with  garlands  and  flowers.  Even 
when  there  is  an  idol  in  the  temple,  the  karagam  is  set 
up  in  a  corner  thereof,  and  taken  daily,  morning  and 
evening,  in  procession,  carried  on  the  head  of  a  pujari  or 
other  person.  On  the  last  day  of  the  festival,  the  kara- 
gam is  elaborately  decorated  with  parrots,  dolls,  flowers, 
etc.,  made  of  pith  {^sckynomene  aspera),  and  called  pu 
karagam  (flower  pot). 

The  Pallis  live  in  separate  streets  or  quarters 
distinctively  known  as  the  Palli  teru  or  Kudi  teru  (ryots' 
quarter).  The  bulk  of  them  are  labourers,  but  many 
now  farm  their  own  lands,  while  others  are  engaged  in 
trade  or  in  Government  service.     The  occupations  of 

;■  .is*-^ 

«.v;«f  ^ 



those  whom  I  have  examined  at  Madras  and  Chingleput 
were  as  follows  : — 





Bullock  and  pony  cart  driver. 






Sweetmeat  vendor. 


Flower  vendor. 


Some  of  the  Chingleput  Palli  men  were  tattooed, 
like  the  Irulas,  with  a  dot  or  vertical  stripe  on  the 
forehead.  Some  Irulas,  it  may  be  noted  en  passant,  call 
themselves  Ten  (honey)  Vanniyans,  or  Vana  (forest) 

Like  many  other  castes,  the  Pallis  have  their  own 
caste  beggars,  called  Nokkan,  who  receive  presents  at 
marriages  and  on  other  occasions.  The  time-honoured 
panchayat  system  still  prevails,  and  the  caste  has 
headmen,  entitled  Perithanakkaran  or  Nattamaikkaran, 
who  decide  all  social  matters  affecting  the  community, 
and  must  be  present  at  the  ceremonial  distribution  of 

The  Kovilars,  and  some  others  who  aspire  to  a  high 
social  status,  practice  infant  marriage,  but  adult  marriage 
is  the  rule.  At  the  betrothal  ceremony,  the  future 
bridegroom  goes  to  the  house  of  his  prospective  father- 
in-law,  where  the  headman  of  the  future  bride  must  be 
present.  The  bridegroom's  headman  or  father  places  on 
a  tray  betel,  flowers,  the  bride-price  (pariyam)  in  money 
or  jewels,  the  milk  money  (mulapal  kuli),  and  a  cocoa- 
nut.  Milk  money  is  the  present  given  to  the  mother  of 
the  bride,  in  return  for  her  having  given  nourishment  to 
the  girl  during  her  infancy.  All  these  things  are  handed 
by  the  bridegroom's  headman  to  the  father  or  headman 



of  the  bride,  saying  "  The  money  is  yours.  The  girl  is 
ours."  The  bride's  father,  receiving  them,  says  "  The 
money  is  mine.  The  girl  is  yours."  This  performance 
is  repeated  thrice,  and  pan-supari  is  distributed,  the  first 
recipient  being  the  maternal  uncle.  The  ceremony  is 
in  a  way  binding,  and  marriage,  as  a  rule,  follows  close 
on  the  betrothal.  If,  in  the  interval,  a  girl's  intended 
husband  dies,  she  may  marry  some  one  else.  A  girl  may 
not  marry  without  the  consent  of  her  maternal  uncle, 
and,  if  he  disapproves  of  a  match,  he  has  the  right  to 
carry  her  off  even  when  the  ceremony  is  in  progress, 
and  marry  her  to  a  man  of  his  selection.  It  is  stated, 
in  the  Vannikula  Vilakkam,  that  at  a  marriage  among 
the  Pallis  "the  bride,  after  her  betrothal,  is  asked  to 
touch  the  bow  and  sword  of  the  bridegroom.  The 
latter  adorns  himself  with  all  regal  pomp,  and,  mounting 
a  horse,  goes  in  procession  to  the  bride's  house  where 
the  marriage  ceremony  is  celebrated." 

The  marriage  ceremony  is,  in  ordinary  cases,  com- 
pleted in  one  day,  but  the  tendency  is  to  spread  it  over 
three  days,  and  introduce  the  standard  Puranic  form  of 
ritual.  On  the  day  preceding  the  wedding-day,  the  bride 
is  brought  in  procession  to  the  house  of  the  bridegroom, 
and  the  marriage  pots  are  brought  by  a  woman  of  the 
potter  caste.  On  the  wedding  morning,  the  marriage 
dais  is  got  ready,  and  the  milk-post,  pots,  and  lights  are 
placed  thereon.  Bride  and  bridegroom  go  separately 
through  the  nalagu  ceremony.  They  are  seated  on  a 
plank,  and  five  women  smear  them  with  oil  by  means  of 
a  culm  of  grass  (  Cynodon  Dactylon),  and  afterwards  with 
Phaseolus  Mungo  (green  gram)  paste.  Water  coloured 
with  turmeric  and  chunam  (arathi)  is  then  waved  round 
them,  to  avert  the  evil  eye,  and  they  are  conducted  to 
the  bathing-place.     While  they  are  bathing,  five  small 



cakes  are  placed  on  various  parts  of  the  body — knees, 
shoulders,  head,  etc.  When  the  bridegroom  is  about  to 
leave  the  spot,  cooked  rice,  contained  in  a  sieve,  is 
waved  before  him,  and  thrown  away.  The  bridal  couple 
are  next  taken  three  times  round  the  dais,  and  they  offer 
pongal  (cooked  rice)  to  the  village  and  house  gods  and 
the  ancestors,  in  five  pots,  in  which  the  rice  has  been 
very  carefully  prepared,  so  as  to  avoid  pollution  of  any 
kind,  by  a  woman  who  has  given  birth  to  a  first  child. 
They  then  dress  themselves  in  their  wedding  finery,  and 
get  ready  for  the  tying  of  the  tali.  Meanwhile,  the 
milk-post,  made  of  Odina  Wodier,  Erythrina  indica,  or 
the  handle  of  a  plough,  has  been  set  up.  At  its  side  are 
placed  a  grindstone,  a  large  pot,  and  two  lamps  called 
kuda-vilakku  (pot  light)  and  alankara-vilakku  (ornamental 
light).  The  former  consists  of  a  lighted  wick  in  an 
earthenware  tray  placed  on  a  pot,  and  the  latter  of  a 
wooden  stand  with  several  branches  supporting  a  number 
of  lamps.  It  is  considered  an  unlucky  omen  if  the  pot 
light  goes  out  before  the  conclusion  of  the  ceremonial. 
It  is  stated  by  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart*  that  in  the  North 
Arcot  district  "  in  the  marriage  ceremony  of  the  Van- 
niyans  or  Pal  lis,  the  first  of  the  posts  supporting  the 
booth  must  be  cut  from  the  vanni  {Prosopis  spicigera\ 
a  tree  which  they  hold  in  much  reverence  because  they 
believe  that  the  five  Pandava  Princes,  who  were  like 
themselves  Kshatriyas,  during  the  last  year  of  their 
wanderings,  deposited  their  arms  in  a  tree  of  this  species. 
On  the  tree  the  arms  turned  into  snakes,  and  remained 
untouched  till  the  owners'  return.  "  The  Prosopis  tree  is 
worshipped  in  order  to  obtain  pardon  from  sins,  success 
over  enemies,  and  the  realisation  of  the  devotee's  wishes. 

*  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 
VI-2  B 


When  the  bride  and  bridegroom  come  to  the  wedding 
booth  dressed  in  their  new  clothes,  the  Brahman  purohit 
gives  them  the  threads  (kankanam),  which  are  to  be  tied 
round  their  wrists.  The  tali  is  passed  round  to  be 
blessed  by  those  assembled,  and  handed  to  the  bride- 
groom, who  ties  it  on  the  bride's  neck.  While  he  is  so 
doing,  his  sister  holds  a  light  called  Kamakshi  vilakku. 
Kamakshi,  the  goddess  at  Conjeeveram,  is  a  synonym  for 
Siva's  consort  Parvathi.  The  music  of  the  flute  is  some- 
times accompanied  by  the  blowing  of  the  conch  shell 
while  the  tali  is  being  tied,  and  omens  are  taken  from 
the  sounds  produced  thereby.  The  tali-tying  ceremony 
concluded,  the  couple  change  their  seats,  and  the  ends  of 
their  clothes  are  tied  together.  Rice  is  thrown  on  their 
heads,  and  in  front  of  them,  and  the  near  relations  may 
tie  gold  or  silver  plates  called  pattam.  The  first  to  do 
this  is  the  maternal  uncle.  Bride  and  bridegroom  then 
go  round  the  dais  and  milk-post,  and,  at  the  end  of  the 
second  turn,  the  bridegroom  lifts  the  bride's  left  foot, 
and  places  it  on  the  grindstone.  At  the  end  of  the 
third  turn,  the  brother-in-law,  in  like  manner,  places 
the  bridegroom's  left  foot  on  the  stone,  and  puts  on  a 
toe-ring.  For  so  doing,  he  receives  a  rupee  and  betel. 
The  contracting  couple  are  then  shown  the  pole-star 
(Arundhati),  and  milk  and  fruit  are  given  to  them. 
Towards  evening,  the  wrist-threads  are  removed,  and 
they  proceed  to  a  tank  for  a  mock  ploughing  ceremony. 
The  bridegroom  carries  a  ploughshare,  and  the  bride  a 
small  pot  containing  conji  (rice  gruel).  A  small  patch  of 
ground  is  turned  up,  and  puddled  so  as  to  resemble  a 
miniature  field,  wherein  the  bridegroom  plants  some 
grain  seedlings.  A  miniature  Pillayar  (Ganesa)  is  made 
with  cow-dung,  and  betel  offered  to  it.  The  bridegroom 
then  sits  down,  feigning  fatigue,  and  the  bride  gives  him 


a  handful  of  rice,  which  his  brother-in-law  tries  to 
prevent  him  from  eating.  The  newly-married  couple 
remain  for  about  a  week  at  the  bride's  house,  and  are 
then  conducted  to  that  of  the  bridegroom,  the  brother- 
in-law  carrying  a  hundred  or  a  hundred  and  ten  cakes. 
Before  they  enter  the  house,  coloured  water  and  a  cocoa- 
nut  are  waved  in  front  of  them,  and,  as  soon  as  she  puts 
foot  within  her  new  home,  the  bride  must  touch  pots 
containing  rice  and  salt  with  her  right  hand.  A  curious 
custom  among  the  Pallis  at  Kumbakonam  is  that  the 
bride's  mother,  and  often  all  her  relatives,  are  debarred 
from  attending  her  marriage.  The  bride  is  also  kept 
gosha  (in  seclusion)  for  all  the  days  of  the  wedding.* 

It  is  noted  by  Mr.  Hemingway  that  some  of  the 
Pandamuttu  Pallis  of  the  Trichinopoly  district  "  practice 
the  betrothal  of  infant  girls,  the  ceremony  consisting  of 
pouring  cow-dung  water  into  the  mouth  of  the  baby. 
They  allow  a  girl  to  marry  a  boy  younger  than  herself, 
and  make  the  latter  swallow  a  two-anna  bit,  to  neutral- 
ise the  disadvantages  of  such  a  match.  Weddings  are 
generally  performed  at  the  boy's  house,  and  the  bride's 
mother  does  not  attend.  The  bride  is  concealed  from 
view  by  a  screen." 

It  is  said  that,  some  years  ago,  a  marriage  took  place 
at  Panruti  near  Cuddalore  on  the  old  Svayamvara  prin- 
ciple described  in  the  story  of  Nala  and  Damayanti  in  the 
Mahabharata.  According  to  this  custom,  a  girl  selects 
a  husband  from  a  large  number  of  competitors,  who  are 
assembled  for  the  purpose. 

Widow  remarriage  is  permitted.  At  the  marriage  of 
a  widow,  the  tali  is  tied  by  a  married  woman,  the  bride- 
groom standing  by  the  side,  usually  inside   the  house. 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  Tanjore  district. 


Widow  marriage  is  known  as  naduvittu  tali,  as  the  tali- 
tying  ceremony  takes  place  within  the  house  (naduvldu). 

To  get  rid  of  the  pollution  of  the  first  menstrual 
period,  holy  water  is  sprinkled  over  the  girl  by  a 
Brahman,  after  she  has  bathed.  She  seats  herself  on  a 
plank,  and  rice  cakes  (puttu),  a  pounding  stone,  and 
arathi  are  waved  in  front  of  her.  Sugar  and  betel  are 
then  distributed  among  those  present. 

The  dead  are  sometimes  burnt,  and  sometimes 
buried.  As  soon  as  an  individual  dies,  the  son  goes 
three  times  round  the  corpse,  carrying  an  iron  measure 
(marakkal),  wherein  a  lamp  rests  on  unhusked  rice. 
The  corpse  is  washed,  and  the  widow  bathes  in  such  a 
way  that  the  water  falls  on  it.  Omission  to  perform  this 
rite  would  entail  disgrace,  and  there  is  an  abusive  phrase 
"  May  the  water  from  the  woman's  body  not  fall  on  that 
of  the  corpse."  The  dead  man  and  his  widow  exchange 
betel  three  times.  The  corpse  is  carried  to  the  burning 
or  burial-ground  on  a  bamboo  stretcher,  and,  on  the  way 
thither,  is  set  down  near  a  stone  representing  Ari- 
chandra,  to  whom  food  is  offered.  Arichandra  was  a 
king  who  became  a  slave  of  the  Paraiyans,  and  is  in 
charge  of  the  burial-ground.  By  some  Pallis  a  two- 
anna  piece  is  placed  on  the  forehead,  and  a  pot  of  rice 
on  the  breast  of  the  corpse.  These  are  taken  away  by 
the  officiating  barber  and  Paraiyan  respectively.*  Men 
who  die  before  they  are  married  have  to  go  through 
a  post-mortem  mock  marriage  ceremony.  A  garland 
of  arka  {Calotropis  gigantea)  flowers  is  placed  round 
the  neck  of  the  corpse,  and  mud  from  a  gutter  is  shaped 
into  cakes,  which,  like  the  cakes  at  a  real  marriage,  are 
placed  on  various  parts  of  the  body. 

*  Gaxetteer  of  the  Tanjore  district. 


A  curious  death  ceremony  is  said  by  Mr.  Heming- 
way to  be  observed  by  the  Arasu  Pallis  in  the 
Trichinopoly  district.  On  the  day  after  the  funeral, 
two  pots  of  water  are  placed  near  the  spot  where  the 
corpse  was  cremated.  If  a  cow  drinks  of  the  water, 
they  think  it  is  the  soul  of  the  dead  come  to  quench 
its  thirst. 

In  some  places,  Palli  women  live  in  strict  seclusion 
(Gosha).  This  is  particularly  the  case  in  the  old 
Palaigar  families  of  Ariyalur,  Udaiyarpalaiyam,  Picha- 
varam,  and  Sivagiri. 

The  caste  has  a  well -organised  Sangham  (association) 
called  Chennai  Vannikula  Kshatriya  Maha  Sangham, 
which  was  established  in  1888  by  leaders  of  the  caste. 
Besides  creating  a  strong  esprit  de  corps  among  members 
of  the  caste  in  various  parts  of  the  Madras  Presidency, 
it  has  been  instrumental  in  the  opening  of  seven  schools, 
of  which  three  are  in  Madras,  and  the  others  at 
Conjeeveram,  Madhurantakam,  Tirukalikundram  and 
Kumalam.  It  has  also  established  chuttrams  (rest- 
houses)  at  five  places  of  pilgrimage.  Chengalvaraya 
Nayakar's  Technical  School,  attached  to  Pachaiappa's 
College  in  Madras,  was  founded  in  1865  by  a  member 
of  the  Palli  caste,  who  bequeathed  a  large  legacy  for  its 
maintenance.  There  is  also  an  orphanage  named  after 
him  in  Madras,  for  Palli  boys.  Govindappa  Nayakar's 
School,  which  forms  the  lower  secondary  branch  of 
Pachaiappa's  College,  is  another  institution  which  owes 
its  existence  to  the  munificence  of  a  member  of  the  Palli 
caste.  The  latest  venture  of  the  Pallis  is  the  publication 
of  a  newspaper  called  Agnikuladittan  (the  sun  of  the 
Agnikula),  which  was  started  in  1908. 

Concerning  the  Pallis,  Pallilu,  or  Palles,  who  are 
settled  in  the  Telugu  country  as  fishermen,  carpenters, 


and  agriculturists,  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  writes  *  that "  It 
seems  probable  that  they  are  a  branch  of  the  great  Palli 
or  Vanniya  tribe,  for  Buchanan  refers  to  the  Mina  (fish) 
Pallis  and  Vana  Pallis."  As  sub-castes  of  these  Pallis, 
Vada  (boatmen),  Marakkadu  and  Edakula  are  given  in 
the  Census  Report,  1901.  In  the  North  Arcot  Manual, 
Palli  is  given  as  a  sub-division  of  the  Telugu  Kapus.  In 
some  places  the  Pallis  call  themselves  Palle  Kapulu,  and 
give  as  their  gotram  Jambumaharishi,  which  is  a  gotram 
of  the  Pallis.  Though  they  do  not  intermarry,  the  Palle 
Kapulu  may  interdine  with  the  Kapus. 

Concerning  the  caste-beggars  of  the  Pallis,  and  their 
legendary  history,  I  read  the  following  account,  f  "  I 
came  upon  a  noisy  procession  entering  one  of  the  main 
streets  of  a  town  not  far  from  Madras.  It  was  headed 
by  spearmen,  swordsmen,  and  banner-bearers,  the  last 
carrying  huge  flags  (palempores)  with  representations 
of  lions,  tigers,  monkeys,  Brahmany  kites,  goblins  and 
dwarfs.  The  centre  of  attraction  consisted  of  some  half 
dozen  men  and  women  in  all  the  bravery  of  painted 
faces  and  gay  clothing,  and  armed  with  swords,  lances, 
and  daggers.  Tom-toms,  trumpets,  cymbals,  and  horns 
furnished  the  usual  concomitant  of  ear-piercing  music, 
while  the  painted  men  and  women  moved,  in  time  with 
it,  their  hands  and  feet,  which  were  encircled  by  rows 
of  tiny  bells.  A  motley  following  of  the  tag-rag  and 
bob-tail  of  the  population,  which  had  been  allured 
thither  by  the  noise  and  clamour,  brought  up  the  rear 
of  the  procession,  which  stopped  at  each  crossing.  At 
each  halt,  the  trumpeters  blew  a  great  and  sonorous 
blast,  while  one  of  the  central  figures,  with  a  conspicu- 
ous abdominal  development,  stepped  forward,  and,    in  a 

*  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district.  f  Madras  Mail,  1906. 


Stentorian  voice,  proclaimed  the  brave  deeds  per- 
formed by  them  in  the  days  gone  by,  and  challenged 
all  comers  to  try  conclusions  with  them,  or  own  them- 
selves beaten.  I  was  told  that  the  chief  personages  in 
the  show  were  Jatipillays  (literally,  children  of  the  caste), 
who  had  arrived  in  the  town  in  the  course  of  their 
annual  tour  of  the  country,  for  collecting  their  perqui- 
sites from  all  members  of  the  Palli  or  Padiachi  caste,  and 
that  this  was  how  they  announced  their  arrival.  The 
perquisite  levied  is  known  as  the  talaikattu  vari  (poll- 
tax,  or  literally  the  turban  tax),  a  significant  expression 
when  it  is  borne  in  mind  that  only  the  adult  male 
members  of  the  caste  (those  who  are  entitled  to  tie  a 
cloth  round  their  heads)  are  liable  to  pay  it,  and  not  the 
women  and  children.  It  amounts  to  but  one  anna  per 
head,  and  is  easily  collected.  The  Jatipillays  also 
claim  occult  powers,  and  undertake  to  exhibit  their  skill 
in  magic  by  the  exorcism  of  devils,  witchcraft  and 
sorcery,  and  the  removal  of  spells,  however  potent. 
This  operation  is  called  modi  edukkirathu,  or  the  break- 
ing of  spells,  and  sometimes  the  challenge  is  taken  up 
by  a  rival  magician  of  a  different  caste.  A  wager  is 
fixed,  and  won  or  lost  according  to  the  superior  skill 
of  the  challenger  or  challenged.  Entering  into  friendly 
chat  with  one  of  the  leading  members  of  the  class,  I 
gleaned  the  following  legend  of  its  origin,  and  of  the 
homage  accorded  to  it  by  the  Pallis.  In  remote  times, 
when  Salivahana  was  king  of  the  Chola  country,  with 
its  capital  at  Conjeeveram,  all  the  principal  castes  of 
South  India  had  their  head-quarters  at  the  seat  of 
government,  where  each,  after  its  own  way,  did  homage 
to  the  triple  deities  of  the  place,  namely,  Kamakshi 
Amman,  Ekambrasvarar,  and  Sri  Varadarajaswami. 
Each  caste  got  up  an  annual  car  festival  to  these  deities. 


On  one  of  these  occasions,  owing  to  a  difference  which 
had  arisen  between  the  Seniyans  (weavers),  who  form 
a  considerable  portion  of  the  population  of  Conjeeveram, 
on  one  side,  and  the  Pallis  or  Vanniyans  on  the  other, 
some  members  of  the  former  caste,  who  were  adepts  in 
magic,  through  sheer  malevolence  worked  spells  upon 
the  cars  of  the  Pallis,  whose  progress  through  the  streets 
first  became  slow  and  tedious,  and  was  finally  completely 
arrested,  the  whole  lot  of  them  having  come  to  a  stand- 
still, and  remaining  rooted  on  the  spot  in  one  of  the 
much  frequented  thoroughfares  of  the  city.  The  Pallis 
put  on  more  men  to  draw  the  cars,  and  even  employed 
elephants  and  horses  to  haul  them,  but  all  to  no  purpose. 
As  if  even  this  was  not  sufficient  to  satisfy  their  malig- 
nity, the  unscrupulous  Seniyars  actually  went  to  King 
Salivahana,  and  bitterly  complained  against  the  Pallis  of 
having  caused  a  public  nuisance  by  leaving  their  cars  in 
a  common  highway  to  the  detriment  of  the  public  traffic. 
The  king  summoned  the  Pallis,  and  called  them  to 
account,  but  they  pleaded  that  it  was  through  no  fault  of 
theirs  that  the  cars  had  stuck  in  a  thoroughfare,  that 
they  had  not  been  negligent,  but  had  essayed  all  possible 
methods  of  hauling  them  to  their  destination  by  adding 
to  the  number  of  men  employed  in  pulling  them,  and  by 
having  further  tried  to  accelerate  their  progress  with  the 
aid  of  elephants,  camels,  and  horses,  but  all  in  vain. 
They  further  declared  their  conviction  that  the  Seniyars 
had  played  them  an  ill-turn,  and  placed  the  cars  under  a 
spell.  King  Salivahana,  however,  turned  a  deaf  ear  to 
these  representations,  and  decreed  that  It  was  open  to 
the  Pallis  to  counteract  the  spells  of  their  adversaries, 
and  he  prescribed  a  period  within  which  this  was  to  be 
effected.  He  also  tacked  on  a  threat  that,  in  default  of 
compliance  with  his  mandate,  the  Pallis  must  leave  his 


kingdom  for  good  and  ever.  The  PalHs  sought  refuge 
and  protection  of  the  goddess  Kamakshi  Amman,  whose 
pity  was  touched  by  their  sad  plight,  and  who  came  to 
their  aid.  She  appeared  to  one  of  the  elders  of  the 
caste  in  a  dream,  and  revealed  to  him  that  there  was 
a  staunch  devotee  of  hers — a  member  of  their  caste — 
who  ilone  could  remove  the  spells  wrought  by  the 
Seniyars,  and  that  this  man,  Ramasawmy  Naikan,  was 
Prime  Minister  in  the  service  of  the  Kodagu  (Coorg) 
Raja.  The  desperate  plight  they  were  in  induced  the 
Pallis  to  send  a  powerful  deputation  to  the  Raja,  and  to 
beg  of  him  to  lend  them  the  services  of  Ramasawmy 
Naik,  in  order  to  save  them  from  the  catastrophe  which 
was  imminent.  The  Raja  was  kind  enough  to  comply. 
The  Naik  arrived,  and,  by  virtue  of  his  clairvoyant 
powers,  took  in  the  situation  at  a  glance.  He  found 
myriads  of  imps  and  uncanny  beings  around  each  of  the 
car-wheels,  who  gripped  them  as  by  a  vice,  and  pulled 
them  back  with  their  sinewy  legs  and  hands  every  time 
an  attempt  was  made  to  drag  them  forwards.  Rama- 
sawmy Naik  by  no  means  liked  the  look  of  things,  for  he 
found  that  he  had  all  his  work  cut  out  for  him  to  keep 
these  little  devils  from  doing  him  bodily  harm,  let  alone 
any  attempt  to  caste  them  off  by  spells.  He  saw  that 
more  than  common  powers  were  needed  to  face  the 
situation,  and  prayed  to  Kamakshi  Amman  to  disclose 
a  way  of  overcoming  the  enemy.  After  long  fasting 
and  prayers,  he  slept  a  night  in  the  temple  of  Kamakshi 
Amman,  in  the  hope  that  a  revelation  might  come  to 
him  in  his  slumber.  While  he  slept,  Kamakshi  Amman 
appeared,  and  declared  to  him  that  the  only  way  of 
overcoming  the  foe  was  for  the  Pallis  to  render  a  pro- 
pitiatory sacrifice,  but  of  a  most  revolting  kind,  namely, 
to  offer  up  as  a  victim  a  woman  pregnant  with  her  first 


child.  The  Pallis  trembled  at  the  enormity  of  the 
demand,  and  declared  that  they  would  sooner  submit 
to  Salivahana's  decree  of  perpetual  exile  than  offer  such 
a  horrible  sacrifice.  Ramasawmy  Naik,  however,  rose 
to  the  occasion,  and  resolved  to  sacrifice  his  own  girl- 
wife,  who  was  then  pregnant  with  her  first  child.  He 
succeeded  in  propitiating  the  deity  by  offering  this 
heroic  sacrifice,  and  the  spells  of  the  Seniyars  instantly 
collapsed,  and  the  whole  legion  of  imps  and  devils, 
who  had  impeded  the  progress  of  the  Pallis'  car,  vanished 
into  thin  air.  The  coast  having  thus  been  cleared  of 
hostile  influences,  Ramasawmy  Naik,  with  no  more  help 
than  his  own  occult  powers  gave  him,  succeeded  in 
hauling  the  whole  lot  of  cars  to  their  destination,  and 
in  a  single  trip,  by  means  of  a  rope  passed  through 
a  hole  in  his  nose.  The  Pallis,  whose  gratitude  knew 
no  bounds,  called  down  benedictions  on  his  head,  and, 
falling  prostrate  before  him,  begged  him  to  name  his 
reward  for  the  priceless  service  rendered  by  him  to 
their  community.  Ramasawmy  Naik  only  asked  that 
the  memory  of  his  services  to  the  caste  might  be  per- 
petuated by  the  bestowal  upon  him  and  his  descendants 
of  the  title  Jati-pillay,  or  children  of  the  caste,  and  of 
the  privilege  of  receiving  alms  at  the  hands  of  the 
Pallis ;  and  that  they  might  henceforth  be  allowed  the 
honour  of  carrying  the  badges  of  the  caste — banners, 
state  umbrellas,  trumpets,  and  other  paraphernalia — 
in  proof  of  the  signal  victory  they  had  gained  over  the 

Palli  Dasari.— A  name  for  Tamil-speaking  Dasaris, 
as  distinguished  from  Telugu-speaking  Dasaris. 

Palli  Idiga. — A  name  given  by  Telugu  people  to 
Tamil  Shanans,  whose  occupation  is,  like  that  of  Idigas, 

29  pANAN 

Pallicchan.— A  sub-division  of  Nayars,  the  heredi- 
tary occupation  of  which  is  palanquin-bearing.  In  the 
Cochin  Census  Report,  the  Pallicchan s  are  recorded  as 
being  palanquin-bearers  for  Brahmans. 

Pallikkillam. — An  exogamous  sept  or  illam  of 
Tamil  Panikkans. 

Palua.^A  sub-division  of  Badhoyi. 

Pambaikkaran.— An  occupational  name  for 
Paraiyans,  who  play  on  a  drum  called  pambai. 

Pambala.— -The  Pambalas,  or  drum  (pamba)  people, 
are  Malas  who  act  as  musicians  at  Mala  marriages  and 
festivals  in  honour  of  their  deities.  They  also  take  part 
in  the  recitation  of  the  story  of  Ankamma,  and  making 
muggu  (designs  on  the  floor)  at  the  peddadinamu  death 
ceremony  of  the  Gamallas. 

Pammi  (a  common  lamp). — An  exogamous  sept  of 

Pamula  (snake  people). — A  name  for  snake-charming 
Koravas,  and  Jogis,  who,  in  the  character  of  itinerant 
showmen,  exhibit  snakes  to  the  public.  The  name  also 
occurs  as  an  exogamous  sept  of  Mala  and  Yanadi. 

Panam  (palmyra  palm :  Borassus  fiabellifer.) — A 
sub-division  of  Shanan.  It  also  occurs  as  a  branch  or 
kothu  of  Kondaiyamkotti  Maravans. 

Panan.— The  Tamil  Panans  are  said,  in  the  Census 
Report,  1 90 1,  to  be  also  called  Mestris.  They  are 
"  tailors  among  Tamils  in  Madura  and  Tinnevelly. 
They  employ  Brahmans  and  Vellalas  as  purohits. 
Though  barbers  and  washermen  will  not  eat  food 
prepared  by  them,  they  are  allowed  to  enter  Hindu 
temples."  The  Malayalam  Panans  are  described  in  the 
same  report  as  "  exorcists  and  devil-dancers.  The  men 
also  make  umbrellas,  and  the  women  act  as  midwives. 
In  parts  they  are  called   Malayans,  and  they  may  be 

PANAN  30 

descendants  of  that  hill  tribe  who  have  settled  in  the 
plains."  In  the  South  Canara  Manual,  the  Panans  are 
said  to  be  "  the  Malayalam  caste  corresponding  to  the 
Nalkes  and  Pombadas.  They  are  numerous  in  Malabar, 
where  they  are  also  known  by  the  name  of  Malayan. 
The  devils  whom  they  personify  are  supposed  to  have 
influence  over  crops,  and  at  the  time  of  harvest  the 
Panans  go  about  begging  from  house  to  house,  dancing 
with  umbrellas  in  their  hands.  On  such  occasions, 
however,  it  is  only  boys  and  girls  who  personify  the 
demons."  "  The  village  magician  or  conjurer,"  Mr. 
Gopal  Panikkar  writes,*  "  goes  by  different  names,  such 
as  Panan,  Malayan,  etc.  His  work  consists  in  casting 
out  petty  devils  from  the  bodies  of  persons  (chiefly 
children)  possessed,  in  writing  charms  for  them  to  wear, 
removing  the  pernicious  effects  of  the  evil  eye,  and  so 
on."  On  certain  ceremonial  occasions,  the  Panan  plays 
on  an  hour-glass  shaped  drum,  called  thudi. 

In  an  account  of  the  funeral  ceremonies  of  the 
Tiyans,  Mr.  Logan  writes  f  that  "  early  on  the  morn- 
ing of  the  third  day  after  death,  the  Kurup  or  caste 
barber  adopts  measures  to  entice  the  spirit  of  the 
deceased  out  of  the  room  in  which  he  breathed  his  last. 
This  is  done  by  the  nearest  relative  bringing  into  the 
room  a  steaming  pot  of  savoury  funeral  rice.  It  is 
immediately  removed,  and  the  spirit,  after  three  days' 
fasting,  is  understood  greedily  to  follow  the  odour  of  the 
tempting  food.  The  Kurup  at  once  closes  the  door,  and 
shuts  out  the  spirit.  The  Kurup  belongs  to  the  Panan 
caste.  He  is  the  barber  of  the  polluting  classes  above 
Cherumans,  and  by  profession  he  is  also  an  umbrella 
maker.     But,    curiously   enough,    though    an    umbrella 

•  Malabar  and  its  Folk,  1900.  t  Manual  of  Malabar. 

31  PANAN 

maker,  he  cannot  make  the  whole  of  an  umbrella.  He 
may  only  make  the  framework ;  the  covering  of  it  is  the 
portion  of  the  females  of  his  caste.  If  he  has  no  female 
relative  of  his  own  capable  of  finishing  off  his  umbrellas, 
he  must  seek  the  services  of  the  females  of  other  families 
in  the  neighbourhood  to  finish  his  for  him.  The  basket- 
makers  are  called  Kavaras.  Nothing  will  induce  them 
to  take  hold  of  an  umbrella,  as  they  have  a  motto.  Do 
not  take  hold  of  Panan's  leg." 

In  an  account  of  a  ceremonial  at  the  Pishari  temple 
near  Quilandy  in  Malabar,  Mr.  F.  Fawcett  writes  *  that 
"  early  on  the  seventh  and  last  day,  when  the  morning 
procession  is  over,  there  comes  to  the  temple  a  man  of 
the  Panan  caste.  He  carries  a  small  cadjan  (palm 
leaf)  umbrella  which  he  has  made  himself,  adorned 
all  round  the  edges  with  a  fringe  of  the  young  leaves 
of  the  cocoanut  palm.  The  umbrella  should  have  a  long 
handle,  and  with  this  in  his  hand  he  performs  a  dance 
before  the  temple.  He  receives  about  lo  lbs.  of  raw 
rice  for  his  performance."  It  is  further  recorded  by 
Mr.  Fawcett  that,  when  a  Tiyan  is  cremated,  a  watch  is 
kept  at  the  burning-ground  for  five  days  by  Panans,  who 
beat  drums  all  night  to  scare  away  the  evil  spirits  which 
haunt  such  spots. 

The  following  account  of  the  Panans  is  given  in  the 
Gazetteer  of  Malabar.  "  The  name  is  perhaps  connected 
with  pan,  music.  They  follow  the  makkattayam  family 
system  (of  inheritance  from  father  to  son),  and  practice 
fraternal  polyandry.  In  South  Malabar  there  are  said 
to  be  four  sub-divisions,  called  Tirurengan,  Kodaketti 
(umbrella  tying),  Mlnpidi  (fish  catching),  and  Pulluvan, 
of  which  the  last  named  is  inferior  in  status  to  the  other 

*  Madras  Mus.  Bull.,  Ill,  3,  1901. 

panan  32 

three.  They  are  also  divided  into  exogamous  illams  or 
kiriyams.  They  worship  Kali,  and  inferior  deities  such 
as  Parakutti,  Karinkutti,  Gulikan,  and  Kutti  Chattan. 
Their  methods  of  exorcism  are  various.  If  any  one  is 
considered  to  be  possessed  by  demons,  it  is  usual,  after 
consulting  the  astrologer,  to  ascertain  what  Murti  (lit. 
form)  is  causing  the  trouble,  to  call  in  Panans,  who 
perform  a  ceremony  called  Teyattam,  in  which  they  wear 
masks,  and,  so  attired,  sing,  dance,  tom-tom,  and  play 
on  rude  and  strident  pipes.  Other  of  their  ceremonies 
for  driving  out  devils  called  Ucchaveli  seem  to  be 
survivals  of  imitations  of  human  sacrifice,  or  instances  of 
sympathetic  magic.  One  of  these  consists  of  a  mock 
living  burial  of  the  principal  performer,  who  is  placed 
in  a  pit  which  is  covered  with  planks,  on  the  top  of 
which  a  sacrifice  (homam)  is  performed  with  a  fire 
kindled  with  jack  {Artocarpus  integrifolid)  branches. 
In  another  variety,  the  Panan  cuts  his  left  forearm,  and 
smears  his  face  with  the  blood  thus  drawn.  Panans 
also  take  part  with  Mannans  in  various  ceremonies  at 
Badrakali  and  other  temples,  in  which  the  performers 
personate,  in  suitable  costumes,  some  of  the  minor 
deities  or  demons,  and  fowls  are  sacrificed,  while  a 
Velicchapad  dances  himself  into  a  frenzy,  and  pronounces 
oracles."  It  is  further  noted,  in  the  Gazetteer  of 
Malabar,  that  "  to  constitute  a  valid  divorce,  the  husband 
pulls  a  thread  from  his  cloth,  and  gives  it  to  his  wife's 
brother,  saying  'Your  parisha  is  over.'  It  is  a  tradi- 
tional duty  of  the  Panans  to  furnish  a  messenger  to 
announce  to  an  Izhuvan  (or  Tandan)  girl's  mother  or 
husband  (according  to  where  she  is  staying)  that  she  has 
attained  puberty." 

In    the    Census    Report,    1901,    Anjuttan    (men    of 
the  five   hundred)  and   Munnuttan   (men  of  the   three 

33  PANAN 

hundred)  are  returned  as  sub-castes  of  the  JVIalayalan 

For  the  following  account  of  the  Panans  of  Travan- 
core,  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  N.  Subramani  Aiyar.     The 
word  is  of  Tamil  origin,  and  means  a  tailor.     The  title 
taken  by  them  is  Panikkan,  the  usual  honorific  appellation 
of  most  of  the  industrial  castes  of  Malabar.     They  are 
supposed  to  be  one  with  the  Panans  of  the  Tamil  country, 
though  much   below   them  in  the  social  scale.     They 
observe  a  pollution  distance  of  thirty-six  feet,  but  keep 
Mannans  and  Vedans  at  a  distance  of  eight,  and  Pulayas 
and  Paraiyas  at  a  distance  of  thirty-two  feet  from  them. 
They  are  their  own  barbers  and  washermen.     They  will 
eat  food  prepared  by  Kammalans,  of  whom  there  is  a 
tradition  that  they  are  a  degraded  branch.    Tiruvarangan, 
one  of  the  popular  sages  of  Malabar,  who  are  reputed 
to  be  the  descendants  of  a  Paraiya  woman,  is  said  to  have 
been  a  Panan,  and  the  Panans  pay  him  due  reverence. 
In  the    Keralolpatti,  the  traditional  occupation  of  the 
Panans  is  said  to  be  exorcism,  and  in  British  Malabar 
this  occupation  seems  to  be  continued  at  the  present 
day.     Umbrella-making  is  a   secondary  occupation  for 
the  men.     In  Travancore,  however,  the  only  occupation 
pursued  by  the  Panans  is  tailoring.     The  tali-kettu  cele- 
bration takes  place  before  the  girl  attains  puberty.     If 
this  ceremony  is  intended  to  signify  a  real  marriage,  the 
girl  is  taken  to  her  husband's  house  on  the  fourth  day  of 
the  first  menstrual  period,  and  they  remain  thenceforth 
man  and  wife.     Otherwise  a  sambandham  ceremony  has 
to  be  performed  either  by  the  tali-tier  or  some  one  else, 
to  establish  conjugal  relations.     Inheritance  is  mostly 
paternal.     The  dead  are   buried,    and   death  pollution 
lasts  for  sixteen  days.     The  spirits  of  deceased  ancestors 
are  appeased  once  a  year  by  the  offering  of  cooked  food 

panAn  34 

on  the  new-moon  day  in  the  month  of  Karkatakam 
(July- August).  Ancestors  who  died  from  some  untoward 
accident  are  propitiated  in  the  month  of  Avani  (August- 
September)  by  offerings  of  flesh  and  liquor.  The  latter 
ceremonial  is  termed  vellamkuli  or  water  drinking. 
Small  earthen  sheds,  called  gurusalas  or  kuriyalas  and 
matams,  are  erected  in  memory  of  some  ancestors. 

The  following  account  of  the  Panans  of  the  Cochin 
State  is  extracted  from  a  note  by  Mr.  L,  K.  Ananta 
Krishna  Aiyar.* 

"  The  Panans  give,  as  the  traditional  account  of  their 
origin,   a    distorted    version  of  the  tradition  as   to  the 
origin  of  the  Izhuvans,  which  is  found  in  the  Mackenzie 
Manuscripts.     The  Panan  version  of  the  story  is  as  fol- 
lows.    One   day   a  washerman    of  Cheraman    Perumal 
chanced  to  wash  his  dress  very  clean.     On  being  asked 
by  the  Perumal  as  to  the  cause  of  it,  the  washerman  said 
that  it  was  due  to  the  suggestion  of  a  handsome  carpen- 
ter girl,   who  saw  him  while  washing.     The  Perumal, 
pleased  with  the  girl,  desired  her  to  be  married  to  his 
washerman.    The  parents  of  the  girl  were  duly  consulted, 
and  they  could  not  refuse  the  offer,  as  it  came  from  their 
sovereign.     But  his  fellow  carpenters  resented  it,  for,  if 
the  proposal  was  accepted,  and  the  marriage  celebrated, 
it  might  not  only  place  the  members  of  her  family  under 
a  ban,  but  would  also  bring  dishonour  to  the  castemen. 
To  avert  the  contemplated  union,  they  resorted  to  the 
following  device.    A  pandal  (marriage  booth)  was  erected 
and  tastefully  decorated.      Just  at  the  auspicious  hour, 
when  the  bridegroom  and  his  party  were  properly  seated 
on  mats  in  the  pandal,  the  carpenters  brought  a  puppet 
exactly  resembling  the  bride,  and  placed  it  by  his  side, 

•  Monograph,  Eth.  Survey  of  Cochin. 

35  PAN  AN 

when  suddenly,  by  a  clever  artifice,  the  carpenters  caused 
the  building  to  tumble  down,  and  thereby  killed  all  those 
who  were  in  it.  They  immediately  left  the  Perumal's 
country,  and  took  refuge  in  the  island  of  Ceylon.  The 
ruler  was  much  embarrassed  by  the  disaster  to  the  wash- 
erman, and  by  the  flight  of  the  carpenters,  for  he  had 
none  in  his  country  to  build  houses.  A  few  Panans 
were  sent  for,  and  they  brought  the  carpenters  back.  On 
their  return,  they  were  given  some  fruit  of  the  palmyra 
palm,  which  they  ate.  They  sowed  the  seeds  in  their 
own  places,  and  these  grew  into  large  fruit-bearing 
palms.  The  Panans  possessed  the  privilege  of  keeping 
these  trees  as  their  own,  but  subsequently  made  them 
over  to  the  Izhuvans,  who,  in  memory  of  this,  give  even 
to-day  two  dishes  of  food  to  the  Panans  on  all  ceremonial 
occasions  in  their  houses.  They  have  been,  on  that 
account,  called  by  the  Izhuvans  nettaries,  for  their 
having  originally  planted  these  trees. 

"  There  are  no  titles  among  the  Panans,  but  one,  who 
was  brought  for  examination  at  Trichur,  told  me  that 
one  of  his  ancestors  got  the  title  of  Panikkan,  and  that 
he  had  the  privilege  of  wearing  a  gold  ear-ring,  carrying 
a  walking-stick  lined  with  silver,  and  using  a  knife 
provided  with  a  style.  Kapradan  is  a  title  given  to  the 
headman  in  the  Palghat  taluk.  In  Palghat,  when  the 
Kapradan  dies,  the  Raja  is  informed,  and  he  sends  to 
the  chief  mourner  (the  son)  a  sword,  a  shield,  a  spear,  a 
few  small  guns  with  some  gunpowder,  a  silver  bangle, 
and  a  few  necklaces.  As  the  dead  body  is  taken  to  the 
burial  ground,  the  chief  mourner,  wearing  the  ornaments 
above  mentioned,  goes  behind  it.  In  front  go  a  few 
persons  armed  with  the  weapons  referred  to.  Three  dis- 
charges are  made  (i)  when  the  dead  body  is  removed  from 
the  house,  (2)  when  it  is  placed  on  the  ground,  (3)  when 

PANAN  36 

it  is  burnt.     The  next  day,  the  chief  mourner  pays  his 
respects  to  the  Raja,  with  an  umbrella  of  his  own  making, 
when  the  Raja  bestows  upon  him  the  title  of  Kapradan. 
"There   are   magicians   and    sorcerers    among   the 
Panans,  who    sometimes,  at  the    request  even    of  the 
high-caste  men,   practice  the  black  art.     Some  of  the 
Panans,  like  the  Parayans,  engage  in   magical  rites  of 
a  repulsive  nature,  in  order  to  become  possessors  of  a 
powerful  medicine,  the  possession  of  which  is  believed 
to  confer  the  power  of  obtaining  anything  he   wishes. 
They  also  believe   in   the  existence   of  a   demoniacal 
hierarchy.     Changili  Karuppan,   Pechi,  Oodara  Karup- 
pan.    Kali,     Chotala    Karuppan,    Chotala    Bhadrakali, 
Yakshi,  Gandharvan,  and  Hanuman  are  the  names  of  the 
chief  demons  whom  they  profess  to  control  with  the  aid 
ofmantrams  (consecrated  formulae)  and  offerings.     They 
also  profess  that  they  can  send  one  or  more  of  these 
demons   into   the   bodies   of  men,    and   cast  them   out 
when  persons  are  possessed  of  them.     They  profess  to 
cure   all   kinds   of  diseases   in    children    with  the    aid 
of  magic  and  medicines,  and  all  the  castemen  believe 
that  harm  or  even  death   may  be  caused  to  men  with 
the  aid  of  sorcerers.     In  such  cases,  an  astrologer  is 
consulted,  and,  according  to  his  calculations,  the  aid  of 
a  magician  is  sought  for.     When  a  person  is  suffering 
from  what  are  believed  to  be  demoniacal  attacks,  he  is 
relieved  by  the  performance  of  the  following  ceremony,  ■ 
called  pathalahomam.     A  pit  about  six  feet   in  length, 
three  feet  in  depth,  and  a  foot  or  two  in  breadth,  is  dug. 
A  Panan,  covered  with  a  new  piece  of  cloth,  is  made 
to  lie   in  the  pit,  which  is  filled  in  with  earth,  leaving 
a  small  hole  for  him  to  breathe.     Over  the  middle  of 
his  body,  the  earth  is  raised  and  made  level.     A  sacred 
fire  (homam)  is  made  over  this  with  the  branches  of  a 

37  PAnAN 

jack  tree.     Near  it  a  large  square  is  drawn  with  sixty- 
four  small  divisions,  in  each  of  which  a  small  leaf,  with 
some   paddy   (unhusked   rice),   rice,  flour,  and   lighted 
torches,  is  placed.     Gingelly  (Sesamum)  seeds,  mustard 
seeds,  grains  of  chama  (Pamcum  miliaceMm),  horse  gram 
{Dolichos   biflorus),  eight   fragrant   things,    the    skin  of 
snakes,    dung   of  the   elephant,  milk  of  the   pala  tree, 
twigs  of  the  banyan  tree,  dharba  grass,  nila  narakam 
{Naregamia  alata)  oil,  and  ghee  (clarified  butter)  are 
put   into    it   until    it   burns   bright.     The    sick   man  is 
brought   in  front   of  it,  and  the  sorcerer  authoritatively 
asks  him — or  rather  the  demon  residing  in  his  body — to 
take    these    things.      The    sorcerer     puts    the    above 
mentioned   substances  into   the   fire,  muttering  all  the 
while  his  mantrams  invoking  the  favour  of  Vira  Bhadra 
or   Kandakaruna.     The  significance  of  these  is  '  Oh  ! 
Kandakaruna,  the  King  of  the  Devas,   I  have  no  body, 
that  is,  my  body  is  getting  weaker  and  weaker,  and  am 
possessed   of  some  demon,  which  is  killing  me,  kindly 
help  me,  and  give  me  strength.'     This  done,   another 
operation  is    begun.     A  fowl   is   buried,    and  a  small 
portion    of    the    earth  above   it   is   raised    and    made 
level.     The  figure  of  a  man  is  drawn  by  the  side  of  it. 
Three  homams  (sacred  fires)  are  raised,  one  at  the  head, 
one  in  the   middle,  and   one   at  the   feet.     The  above 
mentioned   grains,   and   other  substances,  are  put  into 
the  fire.     A  large  square  with  sixty-four  smaller  squares 
in  it  is  drawn,  in  each  of  which  a  leaf,  with  grains  of 
paddy,  rice,  and  flowers,  is  placed.     Another  mantram 
in  praise  of  the  demons  already  mentioned   is  uttered, 
and  a    song    is   sung.     After   finishing    this,   a   small 
structure  in  the   form  of    a  temple  is  made.     A  small 
plantain  tree  is  placed  by  the  side  of  it.     A  padmam 
is  drawn,  and    a  puja  (worship)  is  performed  for  the 


Paradevatha,  the  queen  of  demons.  The  sorcerer  makes 
offerings  of  toddy,  beaten  rice,  plantains,  and  cocoanuts, 
and  soon  turns  oracle,  and,  as  one  inspired,  tells  what 
the  deity  wishes,  and  gives  information  as  regards  the 
departure  of  the  demons  from  the  body.  It  is  now 
believed  that  the  patient  is  free  from  all  demoniacal 
attacks.  The  buried  man  is  exhumed,  and  allowed  to 
go  home. 

"  In  the  Palghat  taluk,  the  following  form  of 
sorcery  is  practiced,  which  is  believed  to  relieve  persons 
from  demoniacal  attacks  and  disease.  If,  in  the  house 
of  any  casteman,  it  is  suspected  that  some  malign 
influence  is  being  exercised  by  demons,  a  Panan  is  sent 
for,  who  comes  in  the  evening  with  his  colleagues.  A 
homam  is  lighted  with  the  branches  of  the  trees  already 
mentioned,  and  into  it  are  thrown  six  kinds  of  grains,  as 
well  as  oil  and  ghee.  As  this  is  being  done,  Kallatikode 
Nili,  the  presiding  archdemon,  is  propitiated  with  songs 
and  offerings.  The  next  part  of  the  ceremony  consists 
in  bringing  a  bier  and  placing  a  Panan  on  it,  and  a 
measure  of  rice  is  placed  at  his  head.  He  is,  as  in  the 
case  of  a  dead  body,  covered  with  a  piece  of  new  cloth, 
and  a  small  plantain  tree  is  placed  between  the  thighs. 
At  his  head  a  sheep  and  at  his  feet  a  fowl  are  killed.  He 
pretends  gradually  to  recover  consciousness.  In  this 
state  he  is  taken  outside  the  compound.  The  Panan, 
lying  on  the  bier,  evidently  pretends  to  be  dead,  as  if 
killed  by  the  attack  of  some  demon.  The  propitiation 
with  songs  and  offerings  is  intended  to  gratify  the 
demons.     This  is  an  instance  of  sympathetic  magic. 

**  Some  among  the  Panans  practice  the  oti  (or  odi) 
cult,  like  the  Parayas.  The  following  medicines,  with 
the  aid  of  magic,  are  serviceable  to  them  in  enticing 
pregnant  women  from  their  houses.     Their  preparation 

39  PANAN 

is  described  as  follows.     A   Panan,  who  is  an  adept  in 
the  black  art,  bathes  early  in  the  morning,  dresses  in  a 
cloth  unwashed,  and  performs  puja  to  his  deity,  after 
which  he  goes  in  search  of  a  Kotuveli  plant  {Manihot 
utilissima).     When  he  finds  such  a  one  as  he  wants,  he 
goes  round  it  three  times  every  day,  and  continues  to 
do  so  for  ninety   days,  prostrating    himself  every  day 
before  it.     On  the  last  night,  which  must  be  a  new-moon 
night,  at  twelve  o'clock  he  performs  puja  to  the  plant, 
burning    camphor,    and,    after    going    round    it    three 
times,    prostrates    himself  before   it.     He  then  places 
three  small  torches  on  it,  and  advances  twenty  paces  in 
front  of  it.     With  his   mouth  closed,  and  without  any 
fear,    he   plucks   the    plant    by   the   root,    and    buries 
it   in    the    ashes  on  the   cremation  ground,    on  which 
he  pours  the  water  of  seven  green  cocoanuts.     He  then 
goes  round  it  twenty-one  times,  muttering  all  the  while 
certain  mantrams,  after  which  he  plunges  himself  in  the 
water,  and  stands  erect  until  it  extends  to  his  mouth. 
He  takes  a  mouthful  of  water,  which  he  empties  on  the 
spot,  and  then  takes  the  plant  with  the  root,  which  he 
believes  to  possess  peculiar  virtues.     When  it  is  taken  to 
the  closed  door  of  a  house,  it  has  the  power  to  entice  a 
pregnant  woman,  when  the  foetus  is  removed  {cf.  article 
Parayan).     It  is  all  secretly  done  on  a  dark  midnight. 
The  head,  hands  and  legs  are  cut  off,  and  the  trunk  is 
taken  to  a  dark-coloured  rock,  on  which  it  is  cut  into 
nine  pieces,  which  are  all  burned  until  they  are  blackened. 
At  this  stage,  one  piece  boils,  and  is  placed  in  a  new 
earthen  pot,  with  the  addition  of  the  water  of  nine  green 
cocoanuts.     The  pot  is  removed  to  the  burial-ground. 
The   Panan    performs   a   puja    here   in   favour   of   his 
favourite  deity.     Here  he  fixes  two  poles  deep  in  the 
earth,  at  a  distance  of  thirty  feet  from  each  other. 

PANAN  40 

The  poles  are  connected  by  a  strong  wire,  from 
which  is  suspended  the  pot  to  be  heated  and  boiled. 
Seven  fire-places  are  made  beneath  the  wire.  The 
branches  of  bamboo,  katalati  [Ackyrantkes  Emblica), 
conga  {Bauhinea  variegata),  cocoanut  palm,  jack  tree 
[Artocarpus  integrifolia),  and  pavatta  {Pavatta  indicd), 
are  used  in  forming  a  bright  fire.  The  mixture  in  the 
pot  soon  boils  and  becomes  oily,  at  which  stage  it  is 
passed  through  a  fine  cloth.  The  oil  is  preserved,  and  a 
mark  made  with  it  on  the  forehead  enables  the  possessor 
to  realise  anything  that  is  thought  of.  The  sorcerer  must 
be  in  a  state  of  vow  for  twenty-one  days,  and  live  on  a 
diet  of  chama  kanji.  The  deity,  whose  aid  is  necessary, 
is  propitiated  with  offerings. 

"  One  of  the  ceremonies  which  the  Panans  perform 
is  called  Thukil  Onarthuka  (waking  thukil,  a  kind  of 
drum).  In  the  month  of  Karkadakam  (July-August), 
a  Panan,  with  his  wife,  provided  with  a  drum  and 
kuzhithalam  (circular  bell-metal  cymbals),  goes  to  the 
houses  of  Brahmans  and  Nayars  after  midnight,  and 
sings  sacred  songs.  During  the  week,  they  sing  stand- 
ing underneath  a  banyan  tree  near  the  western  gate 
of  the  Trichur  temple.  From  the  temple  authorities 
they  get  five  measures  of  paddy,  half  a  measure  of  rice, 
some  gingelly  oil,  and  a  cocoanut.  For  their  services 
in  other  houses,  they  receive  a  similar  remuneration. 
This  is  intended  to  drive  evil  spirits,  if  any,  from  hoxises. 
Another  of  their  festivals  is  known  as  Panan  Kali.  The 
traditional  account  therefor  is  as  follows.  Once, 
when  a  Panan  and  his  wife  went  to  a  forest  to  bring 
bamboos  for  the  manufacture  of  umbrellas,  they  missed 
their  way,  night  approached,  and  they  could  not  return. 
They  began  to  be  frightened  by  the  varieties  of  noise 
heard  by  them  in  the  wilderness.     They  collected  pieces 

41  PANAN 

of  dry  bamboo  and  leaves  of  trees,  and  burned  them. 
In  the  presence  of  the  light  thus  obtained,  the  woman 
caught  hold  of  a  creeper  hanging  from  a  tree,  and 
danced  in  honour  of  Bhagavathi,  while  her  husband 
sang  songs  praising  her.  The  day  dawned  at  last,  and 
they  found  their  way  home  in  safety.  In  memory  of 
this  incident,  the  Panans  organise  a  party  for  a  regular 
play.  There  are  ten  male  and  two  female  actors,  and 
the  play  is  acted  during  the  whole  night. 

"The  religion  of  the  Panans  consists  of  an  all- 
pervading  demonology.  Their  chief  gods  are  Mukkan, 
Chathan,  Kappiri,  Malankorathi,  and  Kali.  Pujas  are 
performed  to  them  on  the  first  of  Medom  (April-May), 
Karkadakam  (July- August),  Desara,  and  on  Tuesday  in 
Makaram  (January- February).  These  deities  are  repre- 
sented by  stones  placed  under  a  tree.  They  are  washed 
with  water  on  the  aforesaid  days,  and  offerings  of  sheep 
and  fowls,  malar  (parched  rice),  plantains,  cocoanuts, 
and  boiled  rice  are  made  to  them.  Their  belief  is  that 
these  deities  are  ever  prone  to  do  harm  to  them,  and 
should  therefore  be  propitiated  with  offerings.  The 
Panans  also  worship  the  spirits  of  their  ancestors,  who 
pass  for  their  household  gods,  and  whose  help  they 
seek  in  all  times  of  danger.  They  fast  on  new-moon 
nights,  and  on  the  eleventh  night  after  full-moon  or 

"  The  Panan  is  the  barber  of  the  polluting  castes 
above  Cherumans.  By  profession  he  is  an  umbrella- 
maker.  Panans  are  also  engaged  in  all  kinds  of 
agricultural  work.  In  villages,  they  build  mud  walls. 
Their  women  act  as  midwives. 

"  As  regards  social  status,  the  Panans  eat  at  the 
hands  of  Brahmans,  Nayars,  Kammalans,  and  Izhuvans. 
They  have  to  stand  at  a  distance  of  thirty-two  feet  from 


Brahmans.  Panans  and  Kaniyans  pollute  one  another 
if  they  touch,  and  both  bathe  should  they  happen  to  do 
so.  They  are  their  own  barbers  and  washermen.  They 
live  in  the  vicinity  of  the  Izhuvans,  but  cannot  live  in 
the  Nayar  tharas.  Nor  can  they  take  water  from  the 
wells  of  the  Kammalans.  They  cannot  approach  the 
outer  walls  of  Brahman  temples,  and  are  not  allowed  to 
enter  the  Brahman  streets  in  Palghat." 

In  the  Census  Report,  1891,  Panan  occurs  as  a 
sub-division  of  the  Paraiyans.  Their  chief  occupation 
as  leather-workers  is  said  to  be  the  manufacture  of 

Panasa.— The  Panasas  are  a  class  of  beggars  in  the 
Telugu  country,  who  are  said  to  ask  alms  only  from 
Kamsalas.  The  word  panasa  means  constant  repetition 
of  words,  and,  in  its  application  to  the  Panasa,  probably 
indicates  that  they,  like  the  Bhatrazu  bards  and  pane- 
gyrists, make  up  verses  eulogising  those  from  whom 
they  beg.  It  is  stated  in  the  Kurnool  Manual  (1886) 
that  "  they  take  alms  from  the  Beri  Komatis  and  gold- 
smiths (Kamsalas),  and  no  others.  The  story  goes  that, 
in  Golkonda,  a  tribe  of  Komatis  named  Bacheluvaru 
were  imprisoned  for  non-payment  of  arrears  of  revenue. 
Finding  certain  men  of  the  artificer  class  who  passed  by 
in  the  street  spit  betel  nut,  they  got  it  into  their  mouths, 
and  begged  the  artificers  to  get  them  released.  The 
artificers,  pitying  them,  paid  the  arrears,  and  procured 
their  release.  It  was  then  that  the  Kamsalis  fixed  a 
vartana  or  annual  house-fee  for  the  maintenance  of  the 
Panasa  class,  on  condition  that  they  should  not  beg  alms 
from  the  other  castes."  The  Panasas  appear  every  year 
in  the  Kurnool  district  to  collect  their  dues. 

A.  Chatterton.     Monograph  on  Tanning  and  Working  in  Leather,  1904. 


Pancha.— Pancha,  meaning  five,  is  recorded  as  a 
sub-division  of  the  Linga  Balijas,  and  Panchachara  or 
Panchamsale  as  a  sub-division  of  Lingayats.  In  all 
these,  pancha  has  reference  to  the  five  acharas  or 
ceremonial  observances  of  the  Lingayats,  which  seem  to 
vary  according  to  locality.  Wearing  the  lingam,  wor- 
shipping it  before  meals,  and  paying  reverence  to  the 
Jangam  priests,  are  included  among  the  observances. 

Panchala.— A  synonym  for  Canarese  Kammalans, 
among  whom  five  (panch)  classes  of  workers  are  included, 
viz.,  gold  and  silver,  brass  and  copper,  iron,  and  stone. 

Panchalinga  (five  lingams). — An  exogamous  sept 
of  Boya.     The  lingam  is  the  symbol  of  Siva. 

Panchama.^The  Panchamas  are,  in  the  Madras 
Census  Report,  1871,  summed  up  as  being  "that  great 
division  of  the  people,  spoken  of  by  themselves  as  the 
fifth  caste,  and  described  by  Buchanan  and  other  writers 
as  the  Pancham   Bandam."     According  to   Buchanan,* 
the    Pancham    Bandum    "  consist    of   four  tribes,    the 
Parriar,    the     Baluan,    the    Shekliar,    and    the    Toti." 
Buchanan  further  makes  mention  of  Panchama  Banijigaru 
and   Panchama  Cumbharu  (potters).     The    Panchamas 
were,  in  the   Department  of  Public    Instruction,  called 
"  Paraiyas  and  kindred  classes"  till  1893.     This  classi- 
fication was  replaced,  for  convenience  of  reference,  by 
Panchama,      which      included      Chacchadis,     Godaris, 
Pulayas,    Holeyas,  Madigas,  Malas,   Pallans,  Paraiyans, 
Totis,  and  Valluvans.     *'  It  is,"  the  Director  of  Public 
Instruction  wrote  in  1902,  "for  Government  to  consider 
whether  the  various  classes    concerned  should,  for  the 
sake  of  brevity,  be  described  by  one  simple  name.     The 
terms   Paraiya,  low   caste,  outcaste,  carry   with   them  a 

•  Journey  through  Mysore,  etc.,  1807. 


derogatory  meaning,  and  are  unsuitable.  The  expression 
Pancham  Banda,  or  more  briefly  Panchama,  seems  more 
appropriate."  The  Government  ruled  that  there  is  no 
objection  to  the  proposal  that  Paraiyas  and  kindred 
classes  should  be  designated  Panchama  Bandham  or 
Panchama  in  future,  but  it  would  be  simpler  to  style 
them  the  fifth  class. 

The  following  educational  privileges  according  to  the 
various  classes  classified  as  Panchama  may  be  noted  : — 
(i)  They  are  admitted  into  schools   at   half  the 
standard  rates  of  fees. 

(2)  Under  the  result  grant  system  (recently  abol- 
ished), grants  were  passed  for  Panchama  pupils  at  rates 
50  per  cent,  higher  than  in  ordinary  cases,  and  15  per 
cent,  higher  in  backward  localities. 

(3)  Panchama  schools  were  exempted  from  the 
attendance  restriction,  i.e.,  grants  were  given  to  them, 
however  small  the  attendance.  Ordinary  schools  had  to 
have  an  attendance  of  ten  at  least  to  earn  grants. 

(4)  Panchama  students  under  training  as  teachers 
get  stipends  at  rates  nearly  double  of  those  for  ordinary 

An  interesting  account  of  the  system  of  education  at 
the  Olcott  Panchama  Free  Schools  has  been  written  by 
Mrs.  Courtright.* 

Panchama  is  returned,  in  the  Census  Reports,  1891 
and  1 90 1,  as  a  sub-division  of  Balija  and  Banajiga. 

Pancharamkatti. — A  sub-division  of  Idaiyan,  which 
derives  its  name  from  the  neck  ornament  (pancharam) 
worn  by  the  women. 

Pandamuttu. — A  sub-division  of  Palli,  The  name 
is   made   by   Winslow   to  mean  a   number   of  torches 

*  How  we  teach  the  Paraiya,  3rd  ed,,  Madras,  1906. 

45  pandAram 

arranged  so  as  to  represent  an  elephant.  The  PalHs, 
however,  explain  it  as  referring  to  the  pile  of  pots,  which 
reaches  to  the  top  of  the  marriage  pandal  (pandal,  booth, 
mutti,  touching).  The  lowest  pot  is  decorated  with 
figures  of  elephants  and  horses. 

Pandaram.^Pandaram  is  described  by  Mr.  H.  A. 
Stuart  ^  as  being  "  the  name  rather  of  an  occupation  than 
a  caste,  and  used  to  denote  any  non-Brahmanical  priest. 
The  Pandarams  seem  to  receive  numerous  recruits  from 
the  Saivite  Sudra  castes,  who  choose  to  make  a  profes- 
sion of  piety,  and  wander  about  begging.  They  are  in 
reality  very  lax  in  their  modes  of  life,  often  drinking 
liquor  and  eating  animal  food  furnished  by  any  respect- 
able Sudra.  They  often  serve  in  Siva  temples,  where 
they  make  garlands  of  flowers  to  decorate  the  lingam, 
and  blow  brazen  trumpets  when  offerings  are  made,  or 
processions  take  place.  Tirutanni  is  one  of  the  chief 
places,  in  which  they  congregate." 

It  is  recorded,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the  Trichinopoly 
district,  that  **  the  water  for  the  god's  bath  at  Ratnagiri 
is  brought  by  a  caste  of  non-Brahmans  known  as  Tiru- 
manjana  Pandarams,  who  fetch  it  every  day  from  the 
Cauvery.  They  say  that  they  are  descended  from  an 
Aryan  king,  who  came  to  the  god  with  the  hope  of  getting 
rubies  from  him.  The  god,  in  the  guise  of  a  Brahman, 
tested  his  devotion  by  making  him  fill  a  magic  vessel  with 
Cauvery  water.  The  vessel  would  not  fill,  and  the  Aryan 
stranger  in  a  fit  of  anger  cut  off  the  Brahman's  head.  The 
dead  body  at  once  turned  into  a  lingam,  and  the  Aryan 
was  ordered  to  carry  water  for  the  temple  till  eternity." 

Pandaram  is  used  both  as  the  name  of  a  caste,  and  of 
a  class  composed  of  recruits  from  various  castes  {e.g.. 

*  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 


Vellala  and  Palli).  The  Pandaram  caste  is  composed  of 
respectable  people  who  have  settled  down  as  land-holders, 
and  of  Sanyasis  and  priests  of  certain  matams  (religious 
institutions),  and  managers  of  richly  endowed  temples, 
such  as  those  at  Tiruvadudurai  in  Tanjore  and  Mailam 
in  South  Arcot.  The  common  name  for  these  managers 
is  Tambiran.  The  caste  Pandarams  are  staunch  Saivites 
and  strict  vegetarians.  Those  who  lead  a  celibate  life 
wear  the  lingam.  They  are  said  to  have  been  originally 
Sozhia  Vellalas,  with  whom  intermarriage  still  takes 
place.  They  are  initiated  into  the  Saivite  religion  by 
a  rite  called  Dhikshai,  which  is  divided  into  five  stages, 
viz.,  Samaya,  Nirvana,  Visesha,  Kalasothanai,  and 
Acharya  Abhishekam.  Some  are  temple  servants,  and 
supply  flowers  for  the  god,  while  others  sing  devaram 
(hymns  to  the  god)  during  the  temple  service.  On  this 
account,  they  are  known  as  Meikaval  (body-guard  of  the 
god),  and  Oduvar  (reader).  The  caste  Pandarams  have 
two  divisions,  called  Abhisheka  and  Desikar,  and  the 
latter  name  is  often  taken  as  a  title,  e.g.,  Kandasami 
Desikar.  An  Abhisheka  Pandaram  is  one  who  is  made 
to  pass  through  some  ceremonies  connected  with  Saiva 

The  mendicant  Pandarams,  who  are  recruited  from 
various  classes,  wear  the  lingam,  and  do  not  abstain  from 
eating  flesh.  Many  villages  have  a  Pandaram  as  the 
priest  of  the  shrine  of  the  village  deity,  who  is  frequently 
a  Palli  who  has  become  a  Pandaram  by  donning  the 
lingam.  The  females  are  said  to  live,  in  some  cases,  by 

The  Lingayat  Pandarams  differ  in  many  respects 
from  the  true  Lingayats.  The  latter  respect  their 
Jangam,  and  use  the  sacred  water,  in  which  the  feet  of 
the  Jangam  are  washed,  for  washing  their  stone  lingam. 


To  the  Pandarams,  and  Tamil  Lingayats  in  general,  this 
proceeding  would  amount  to  sacrilege  of  the  worst  type. 
Canarese  and  Telugu  Lingayats  regard  a  Jangam  as 
superior  to  the  stone  lingam.  In  the  matter  of  pollution 
ceremonies  the  Tamil  Lingayats  are  very  particular, 
whereas  the  orthodox  Lingayats  observe  no  pollution. 
The  investiture  with  the  lingam  does  not  take  place 
so  early  among  the  Tamil  as  among  the  Canarese 

For  the  following  note,  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  C. 
Hayavadana  Rao.  "  Dr.  H.  H.  Wilson  *  is  of  opinion 
that  the  word  Pandaram  is  '  more  properly  Panduranga, 
pale  complexioned,  from  their  smearing  themselves  with 
ashes.  It  is  so  used  in  Hemachandra's  history  of  Maha- 
vira,  when  speaking  of  the  Saiva  Brahmans.'  A  more 
popular  derivation  of  the  name  is  from  Bandaram,  a 
public  treasury.  A  good  many  well-to-do  Pandarams 
are  managers  of  Siva  temples  in  Southern  India,  and 
accordingly  have  the  temple  treasuries  under  their  care. 
It  is,  however,  possible  that  the  name  has  been  acquired 
by  the  caste  by  reason  of  their  keeping  a  yellow 
powder,  called  pandaram,  in  a  little  box,  and  giving  it  in 
return  for  the  alms  which  they  receive. 

Opinions  are  divided  as  to  whether  the  Pandarams 
are  Lingayats  or  not.  The  opinion  held  by  F.  W.  Ellis, 
the  well-known  Tamil  scholar  and  translator  of  the  Kural 
of  Tiruvalluvar,  is  thus  summarised  by  Colonel  Wilks.f 
"Mr.  Ellis  considers  the  Jangam  of  the  upper  countries, 
and  the  Pandaram  of  the  lower,  to  be  of  the  same  sect, 
and  both  deny  in  the  most  unequivocal  terms  the  doctrine 
of  the  metempsychosis.  A  manuscript  in  the  Mackenzie 
collection  ascribes  the  origin   of  the    Pandarams  as  a 

*  Works,  I,  225,  foot-note.  t  History  of  Mysore. 


sacerdotal  order  of  the   servile   caste  to   the  religious 
disputes,    which  terminated  in   the   suppression   of  the 
Jain  religion   in  the  Pandian    (Madura)   kingdom,  and 
the  influence  which  they  attained  by  the  aid  which  they 
rendered  to  the  Brahmans  in  that  controversy,  but  this 
origin    seems    to    require    confirmation.      In    a    large 
portion,    perhaps    in   the    whole    of    the    Brahmanical 
temples  dedicated  to   Siva  in  the  provinces   of  Arcot, 
Tanjore,  Trichinopoly,  Madura  and  Tinnevelly,  the  Pan- 
daram  is  the  highest  of  the  temple,  and  has  the  entire 
direction  of  the  revenues,  but  allows  the  Brahmans  to 
officiate  in  the  ceremonial  part  according  to  their  own 
good  pleasure,  as  a  concern  altogether  below  his  note. 
He  has  generally  the  reputation  of  an  irreproachable 
life,   and   is    treated   by   the    Brahmans   of  the    temple 
with  great  reverence,  while  on  his  part  he  looks  with 
compassion   at   the  absurd   trifles   which   occupy   their 
attention.     These  facts  seem  to  point  to  some  former 
revolution,  in  which  a  Jangam  government  obtained  a 
superiority   over  the   Brahmanical   establishments,    and 
adopted  this  mode  of  superseding  the  substantial  part  of 
their  authority.     It  is  a  curious  instance  of  the  Sooder 
(Sudra)  being  the  spiritual  lord  of  the  Brahman,  and  is 
worthy  of  further  historical  investigation."     Dr.  Wilson  * 
also   thinks    that   the   Pandarams   are  Lingayats.     Mr. 
H.  A.  Stuart  t  says  that  they  are  a  class  of  priests  who 
serve   the   non- Brahman   castes.     They   have   returned 
115   sub-divisions,    of  which   only  two   are   sufficiently 
large    to    require    mention,    Andi    of    Tinnevelly    and 
Malabar,  and  Lingadari  of  Chingleput  and  Tinnevelly. 
Andi  is  a  quasi-caste  of  beggars  recruited  from  all  castes, 
and  the  Lingadari  Pandarams  are  the  same  as  Jangams. 

op.  cit.  t  Madras  Census  Report,  1891. 

49  pandAram 

Pandaram  is,  in  fact,  a  class  name  rather  than  the  name 
of  a  caste,  and  it  consists  of  priests  and  beggars. 
Mr.  C.  P.  Brown*  thinks  that  the  Pandarams  are  not 
Lingayats.  *  The  Saiva  worshippers  among  the  Tamils 
are  called  Pandarams  :  these  are  not  Vira  Saivas,  nor  do 
they  wear  the  linga  or  adore  Basava.  I  name  them 
here  chiefly  because  they  are  often  mentioned  as  being 
Vira  Saivas,  whereas  in  truth  they  are  (like  the  Smartas) 
Purva  Saivas,  and  worship  the  image  of  Siva  in  their 
houses.'  It  must  be  remarked  that  Mr.  Brown  appears 
to  have  had  a  confused  idea  of  Pandarams.  Pandarams 
wear  the  linga  on  their  bodies  in  one  of  the  usual  modes, 
are  priests  to  others  professing  the  Lingayat  religion, 
and  are  fed  by  them  on  funeral  and  other  ceremonial 
occasions.  At  the  same  time,  it  must  be  added  that 
they  are — more  especially  the  begging  sections — very 
lax  as  regards  their  food  and  drink.  This  characteristic 
distinguishes  them  from  the  more  orthodox  Lingayats. 
Moreover,  Lingayats  remarry  their  widows,  whereas  the 
Pandarams,  as  a  caste,  will  not. 

*'  Pandarams  speak  Tamil.  They  are  of  two  classes, 
the  married  and  celibate.  The  former  are  far  more 
numerous  than  the  latter,  and  dress  in  the  usual  Hindu 
manner.  They  have  the  hind-lock  of  hair  known  as 
the  kudumi,  put  on  sacred  ashes,  and  paint  the  point 
between  the  eyebrows  with  a  sandal  paste  dot.  The 
celibates  wear  orange-tawny  cloths,  and  daub  sacred 
ashes  all  over  their  bodies.  They  allow  the  hair  of  the 
head  to  become  matted.  They  wear  sandals  with  iron 
spikes,  and  carry  in  their  hands  an  iron  trisulam  (the 
emblem  of  Siva),  and  a  wooden  baton  called  dandayudha 
(another  emblem  of  Siva).     When  they  go  about  the 

*  Madras  Journ.  Lit,  and  Science,  XI,  1840. 

pandAram  50 

streets,  they  sing  popular  Tamil  hymns,  and  beat  against 
their  begging  bowl  an  iron  chain  tied  by  a  hole  to  one 
of  its  sides.  Married  men  also  beg,  but  only  use  a 
bell-metal  gong  and  a  wooden  mallet.  Most  of  these 
help  pilgrims  going  to  the  more  famous  Siva  temples  in 
the  Madras  Presidency,  e.g.^  Tirutani,  Palni,  Tiruvanna- 
malai,  or  Tirupparankunram.  Among  both  sections,  the 
dead  are  buried  in  the  sitting  posture,  as  among  other 
Lingayats.  A  samadhi  is  erected  over  the  spot  where 
they  are  buried.  This  consists  of  a  linga  and  bull  in 
miniature,  which  are  worshipped  as  often  as  may  be 
found  convenient. 

*'  The  managers  of  temples  and  mutts  (religious 
institutions),  known  as  Pandara  Sannadhis,  belong  to  the 
celibate  class.  They  are  usually  learned  in  the  Agamas 
and  Puranas.  A  good  many  of  them  are  Tamil  scholars, 
and  well  versed  in  Saiva  Siddhanta  philosophy.  They 
call  themselves  Tambirans — a  title  which  is  often  usurped 
by  the  uneducated  beggars." 

In  the  Census  Report,  1901,  Vairavi  is  returned  as  a 
sub-caste  of  Pandaram,  and  said  to  be  found  only  in  the 
Tinnevelly  district,  where  they  are  measurers  of  grains 
and  pujaris  in  village  temples.  Vairavi  is  further  used 
as  a  name  for  members  of  the  Melakkaran  caste,  who 
officiate  as  servants  at  the  temples  of  the  Nattukottai 

Pandaram  is  a  title  of  the  Panisavans  and  Valluvan 
priests  of  the  Paraiyans. 

A  class  of  people  called  hill  Pandarams  are  described* 
by  the  Rev.  S.  Mateer  as  **  miserable  beings  without 
clothing,  implements,  or  huts  of  any  kind,  living  in  holes, 
rocks,  or  trees.     They  bring  wax,  ivory  (tusks),  and  other 

•  Native  Life  in  Travancore. 

51  pandAram 

produce  to  the  Arayans,  and  get  salt  from  them.  They 
dig  roots,  snare  the  ibex  (wild  goat,  Hemitragus  hylo- 
crius)  of  the  hills,  and  jungle  fowls,  eat  rats  and  snakes, 
and  even  crocodiles  found  in  the  pools  among  the  hill 
streams.  They  were  perfectly  naked  and  filthy,  and  very 
timid.  They  spoke  Malayalam  in  a  curious  tone,  and 
said  that  twenty-two  of  their  party  had  been  devoured 
by  tigers  within  two  monsoons."  Concerning  these  hill 
Pandarams,  Mr.  N.  Subramani  Aiyar  writes  that  they 
live  on  the  banks  of  streams  in  crevices  of  rocks,  caves, 
and  hollows  of  trees.  They  are  known  to  the  dwellers 
on  the  plains  as  Kattumanushyar,  or  forest  men.  They 
clad  themselves  in  the  bark  of  trees,  and,  in  the  rainy  and 
cold  seasons,  protect  their  bodies  with  plantain  leaves. 
They  speak  a  corrupt  form  of  Tamil.  They  fear  the 
sight  of  other  men,  and  try  to  avoid  approaching  them. 
A  former  European  magistrate  of  the  Cardamom  Hills 
took  some  of  them  to  his  residence,  but,  during  their  three 
days'  stay  there,  they  refused  to  eat  or  talk.  There  is 
a  chieftain  for  every  four  hills,  but  h;s  authority  is  little 
more  than  nominal.  When  women  are  married,  the  earth 
and  hills  are  invoked  as  witnesses.  They  have  Hindu 
names,  such  as  Raman,  Kittan  (Krishna),  and  Govindan. 
In  a  lecture  delivered  some  years  ago  at  Trivandrum, 
Mr.  O.  H.  Bensley  described  the  hill  Pandarams  as  being 
•'  skilful  in  catching  fish,  their  mode  of  cooking  which  is 
to  place  the  fish  on  roots  on  a  rock,  and  cover  them  with 
fire.  They  keep  dogs,  and,  by  their  aid,  replenish  their 
larder  with  rats,  mungooses,  iguanas  (lizard,  Varanus), 
and  other  delicacies.  I  was  told  that  the  authority  recog- 
nised by  these  people  is  the  head  Arayan,  to  whom 
they  give  a  yearly  offering  of  jungle  produce,  receiving 
in  exchange  the  scanty  clothing  required  by  them.  We 
had  an  opportunity    of  examining  their  stock-in-trade, 

VI-4  B 

pandAriyar  52 

which  consisted  of  a  bill-hook  similar  to  those  used  by 
other  hillmen,  a  few  earthen  cooking-pots,  and  a  good 
stock  of  white  flour,  which  was,  they  said,  obtained  from 
the  bark  of  a  tree,  the  name  of  which  sounded  like  ahlum. 
They  were  all  small  in  stature,  with  the  exception  of  one 
young  woman,  and,  both  in  appearance  and  intelligence, 
compared  favourably  with  the  Uralis." 

Pandariyar.— Pandariyar  or  Pandarattar,  denoting 
custodians  of  the  treasury,  has  been  returned  as  a  title  of 
Nattaman,  Malaiman,  and  Sudarman. 

Pandava-kulam.— A  title,  indicative  "  of  the  caste 
of  the  Pandava  kings,"  assumed  by  Jatapus  and  Konda 
Doras,  who  worship  the  Pandavas.  The  Pandava  kings 
were  the  heroes  of  the  Mahabharata,  who  fought  a  great 
battle  with  the  Kauravas,  and  are  said  to  have  belonged 
to  the  lunar  race  of  Kshatriyas.  The  Pandavas  had  a 
single  wife  named  Draupadi,  whom  the  Pallis  or  Vanni- 
yans  worship,  and  celebrate  annually  in  her  honour  a 
fire-walking  festival.  The  Pallis  claim  to  belong  to  the 
fire  race  of  Kshatriyas,  and  style  themselves  Agnikula 
Kshatriyas,  or  Vannikula  Kshatriyas. 

Pandi  (pig). — Recorded  as  an  exogamous  sept  of 
Asili,  Boya,  and  Gamalla.  Pandipattu  (pig  catchers) 
and  Pandikottu  (pig  killers)  occur  as  exogamous  septs 
of  Odde. 

Pandito.^Pandit  or  Pundit  (pandita,  a  learned 
man)  has  been  defined*  as  "properly  a  man  learned  in 
Sanskrit  lore.  The  Pundit  of  the  Supreme  Court  was  a 
Hindu  law-officer,  whose  duty  it  was  to  advise  the 
English  Judges  when  needful  on  questions  of  Hindu  law. 
The  office  became  extinct  on  the  constitution  of  the 
High  Court  (in   1862).      In  the  Mahratta  and  Telugu 

*^Yule  and  Burnell.     Hobson-Jobson. 

53  pAndya 

countries,  the  word  Pandit  is  usually  pronounced  Pant 
(in  English  colloquial  Punt)."  In  the  countries  noted, 
Pant  occurs  widely  as  a  title  of  Brahmans,  who  are  also 
referred  to  as  Pantulu  varu.  The  titles  Sanskrit  Pundit, 
Telugu  Pundit,  etc.,  are  still  officially  recognised  at 
several  colleges  in  the  Madras  Presidency.  Pandit  some- 
times occurs  as  an  honorific  prefix,  e.g.,  Pandit  S.  M. 
Natesa  Sastri,  and  Panditan  is  a  name  given  to  Tamil 
barbers  (Ambattan).  In  some  parts  of  the  Tamil  country, 
Panditar  is  used  as  a  name  for  Madhva  Brahmans, 
because,  it  is  said,  many  of  them  were  formerly  engaged 
as  pandits  at  the  Law  Courts. 

Pandito  is  further  the  name  of  "an  Oriya  caste  of 
astrologers  and  physicians.  They  wear  the  sacred  thread, 
and  accept  drinking  water  only  from  Brahmans  and 
Gaudos.  Infant  marriage  is  practiced,  and  widow  mar- 
riage is  prohibited."^  I  am  informed  that  these  Panditos 
engage  Brahmans  for  their  ceremonials,  do  not  drink 
liquor,  and  eat  fish  and  mutton,  but  not  fowls  or  beef. 
The  females  wear  glass  bangles.  They  are  known  by 
the  name  of  Khodikaro,  from  khodi,  a  kind  of  stone,  with 
which  they  write  figures  on  the  floor,  when  making  astro- 
logical calculations.  The  stone  is  said  to  be  something 
like  soapstone. 

Pandita  occurs  as  an  exogamous  sept  of  Stanikas. 

Pandya.— The  territorial  name  Pandya,  Pandiya, 
Pandiyan,  or  Pandi  has  been  returned,  at  recent  times 
of  census,  as  a  sub-division  of  various  Tamil  classes,  e.g.^ 
Ambattan,  Kammalan,  Occhan,  Pallan,  Vannan,  and 
Vellala.  Pandiya  is  further  a  title  of  some  Shanans.  In 
Tra  vane  ore,  Pandi  has  been  returned  by  some  Izhavans. 
The  variant  Pandiangal  occurs  as  an  exogamous  sept  of 

•  Madras  Census  Report,  1901. 


the  Tamil  Vallambans,  and  Pandu  as  a  Tamil  synonym 
for  Kapu  or  Reddi. 

Panikkar.— Panikkar,  meaning  teacher  or  worker, 
has  been  recorded,  in  the  Malayalam  country,  as  a  title 
of  barbers,  Kammalan,  Maran,  Nayar,  Panan,  and 
Paraiyan.  In  former  times,  the  name  was  applied,  in 
Malabar,  to  fencing-masters,  as  the  following  quotations 
show  : — 

15 18.  "  And  there  are  very  skilful  men  who  teach 
this  art  (fencing),  and  they  are  called  Panicars." — Barbosa. 

1553.  '*  And  when  the  Naire  comes  to  the  age  of 
7  years,  he  is  obliged  to  go  to  the  fencing-school,  the 
master  of  which  (whom  they  call  Panical)  they  regard  as 
a  father,  on  account  of  the  instruction  he  gives  them." — 

1583.  "  The  maisters  which  teach  them  be  gradu- 
ates in  the  weapons  which  they  teach,  and  they  be  called 
in  their  language  Panycaes." — Castaneda. 

A  class  of  people  called  Panikkan  are  settled  in  the 
Madura  and  Tinnevelly  districts.  Some  of  them  are 
barbers  to  Shanans.  Others  have  taken  to  weaving  as 
a  profession,  and  will  not  intermarry  with  those  who  are 
employed  as  barbers.  "The  Panikkans  are,"  Mr.  Fran- 
cis writes,*  "weavers,  agriculturists,  and  traders.  They 
employ  Brahmans  as  priests,  but  these  are  apparently 
not  received  on  terms  of  equality  by  other  Brahmans. 
The  Panikkans  now  frequently  call  themselves  Illam 
Vellalas,  and  change  their  title  in  deeds  and  official 
papers  from  Panikkan  to  Pillai.  They  are  also  taking 
to  wearing  the  sacred  thread  and  giving  up  eating  meat. 
The  caste  is  divided  into  three  vagais  or  endogamous 
classes,  namely,   Mital,  Pattanam,   and  Malayalam,  and 

*   Madras  Census  Report,  1901. 


each  of  these  again  has  five  partly  exogamous  septs  or 
illams  (families),  namely,  Muttillam,  Toranattillam, 
Pallikkillam,  Manjanattillam,  and  Soliya-illam.  It  is 
stated  that  the  Mital  and  Pattanam  sections  will  eat 
together  though  they  do  not  intermarry,  but  that  the 
Malayalam  section  can  neither  dine  with  nor  marry  into 
the  other  two.  They  are  reported  to  have  an  elaborate 
system  of  caste  government,  under  which  eleven  villages 
form  a  gadistalam  (or  stage),  and  send  representatives  to 
its  council  to  settle  caste  matters ;  and  eleven  gadista- 
lams  form  a  nadu  (or  country),  and  send  representatives 
to  a  chief  council,  which  decides  questions  which  are 
beyond  the  competence  of  the  gadistalams."  The 
occurrence  of  Malayam  as  the  name  of  a  sub-division, 
and  of  the  Malayalam  word  illam  as  that  of  the  exoga- 
mous septs,  would  seem  to  indicate  that  the  Panikkans 
are  immigrants  from  the  westward  into  the  Tamil 

Panimagan  (work  children). — A  name  for  Muk- 
kuvans  who  are  employed  as  barbers  for  members  of 
their  caste. 

Panisavan.— Panisavan  is  defined  in  the  Salem 
Manual  as  "  a  corruption  of  paniseygiravan  (panisaivon), 
literally  meaning  one  who  works  (or  does  service),  and 
is  the  caste  name  of  the  class,  whose  business  it  is  to 
carry  news  of  death  to  the  relations  of  the  deceased, 
and  to  blow  the  tharai  or  long  trumpet."  According  to 
Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart,*  Panisavan  appears  to  answer  among 
the  Tamilians  to  the  Dasaris  or  Tadas  of  the  Telugus. 
It  is  a  mendicant  caste,  worshipping  Siva.  Unlike  the 
Tadas,  however,  they  often  employ  themselves  in  culti- 
vation,  and  are,  on  the  whole,   a  more   temperate  and 

*  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district  ;  Madras  Census  Report,  1891. 


respectable  class.  Their  priests  are  Brahmans,  and  they 
eat  flesh,  and  drink  alcoholic  liquor  very  freely.  The 
dead  are  generally  burned. 

There  are  two  classes  of  Panisavans,  of  which  one 
works  for  the  right-hand  section,  and  the  other  for  the 
left.     This  division  is  purely  professional,  and  there  is 
apparently  no  bar    to    intermarriage  between  the    two 
classes.     The  insignia  of  a  Panisavan  are  the   conch- 
shell  {Turbinella  rapd)  and  tharai,  which  he  supports 
from  the  ground  by  means  of  a  bamboo  pole  while  he 
blows  it.     At  marriage  processions,  it  is  his  duty  to  go 
in  front,   sounding  the  tharai  from  time  to  time.     On 
such  occasions,  and  at  festivals  of  the  village  goddesses, 
the  tharai  is  decorated  with  a  string  bearing  a  number 
of  small  triangular  pieces  of  cloth,  and   tufts  of  yak's 
hair.     The  cloth    should  be  white  for    the  right-hand 
section,  and  of  five  different  colours  for  the  left.     At  the 
present   day,    the   Panisavan    is    more    in    request    for 
funerals  than  for  weddings.     In  the  city  of  Madras,  all 
the  materials  necessary  for  the  bier  are  sold  by  Pani- 
savans,  who  also  keep  palanquins    for  the  conveyance 
of   the    corpse   in  stock,    which  are   let   out  on  hire. 
At  funerals,    the   Panisavan  has  to  follow  the  corpse, 
blowing   his   conch-shell.     The   tharai    is    only  used  if 
the  deceased  was  an  important  personage.     When  the 
son  goes  round  the  corpse  with  a   pot  of  water,   the 
Panisavan  accompanies  him,  and  blows  the  conch.     On 
the  last  day  of  the  death  ceremonies  (karmandhiram), 
the  Panisavan  should  be  present,  and  blow  his  conch, 
especially  when  the  tali  (marriage  badge)  is   removed 
from  a  widow's  neck.     In  some  places,   the  Panisavan 
conveys  the  news  of  death,  while  in  others  this  duty  is 
carried  out  by  a  barber.     In  the  Chingleput  and  North 
Arcot  districts,    the    Panisavans  constitute   a  separate 



caste,  and  have  no  connection  with  the  Nokkans,  who 
are  beggars  attached  to  the  PalH  or  Vanniyan  caste.  In 
South  Arcot  and  Tanjore,  on  the  other  hand,  the  name 
Nokkan  is  used  to  signify  the  caste,  which  performs  the 
duties  of  the  Panisavan,  for  which  it  seems  to  be  a 
synonym.  The  Panisavans  of  the  Tinnevelly  district 
have  nothing  in  common  with  those  of  the  northern 
districts,  e.g.,  Chingleput  and  North  Arcot,  whose 
duty  it  is  to  attend  to  the  funeral  ceremonies  of  the 
non- Brahman  castes.  The  main  occupations  of  the 
Tinnevelly  Panisavans  are  playing  in  temples  on  the 
nagasaram  (reed  instrument),  and  teaching  Deva-dasis 
dancing.  Another  occupation,  which  is  peculiar  to  the 
Tinnevelly  Panisavans,  is  achu  velai,  i.e.,  the  prepa- 
ration of  the  comb  to  which  the  warp  threads  of  a 
weaving  loom  are  tied.  Socially  the  Panisavans  occupy 
a  lowly  position,  but  they  use  the  title  Pulavar.  Their 
other  titles  are  Pandaram,  Pillai,  and  Mudali. 

Paniyan.-— The  Paniyans  are  a  dark-skinned  tribe, 
short  in  stature,  with  broad  noses,  and  curly  or  wavy 
hair,  inhabiting  the  Wynad,  and  those  portions  of  the 
Ernad,  Calicut,  Kurumbranad  and  Kottayam  taluks  of 
Malabar,  which  skirt  the  base  of  the  ghats,  and  the 
Mudanad,  Cherangod,  and  Namblakod  amshams  of  the 
Nilgiri  district. 

A  common  belief,  based  on  their  general  appearance, 
prevails  among  the  European  planting  community  that 
the  Paniyans  are  of  African  origin,  and  descended  from 
ancestors  who  were  wrecked  on  the  Malabar  coast. 
This  theory,  however,  breaks  down  on  investigation. 
Of  their  origin  nothing  definite  is  known.  The  Nayar 
Janmis  (landlords)  say  that,  when  surprised  in  the  act  of 
some  mischief  or  alarmed,  the  Paniyan  calls  out  *  Ippi ' ! 
*  Ippi ' !  as  he  runs  away,  and  they  believe  this  to  have 


been  the  name  of  the  country  whence  they  came  origi- 
nally ;  but  they  are  ignorant  as  to  where  Ippimala,  as 
they  call  it,  is  situated.  Kapiri  (Africa  or  the  Cape  ?)  is 
also  sometimes  suggested  as  their  original  habitat,  but 
only  by  those  who  have  had  the  remarks  of  Europeans 
communicated  to  them.  The  Paniyan  himself,  though 
he  occasionally  puts  forward  one  or  other  of  the  above 
places  as  the  home  of  his  forefathers,  has  no  fixed 
tradition  bearing  on  their  arrival  in  Malabar,  beyond  one 
to  the  effect  that  they  were  brought  from  a  far  country, 
where  they  were  found  living  by  a  Raja,  who  captured 
them,  and  carried  them  off  in  such  a  miserable  condition 
that  a  man  and  his  wife  only  possessed  one  cloth  between 
them,  and  were  so  timid  that  it  was  only  by  means  of 
hunting  nets  that  they  were  captured. 

The  number  of  Paniyans,  returned  at  the  census,  1891, 
was  33,282,  and  nine  sub-divisions  were  registered  ;  but,  as 
Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart,  the  Census  Commissioner,  observes  : — 
"Most  of  these  are  not  real,  and  none  has  been 
returned  by  any  considerable  number  of  persons."  Their 
position  is  said  to  be  very  little  removed  from  that  of  a. 
slave,  for  every  Paniyan  is  some  landlord's  *  man ' ;  and, 
though  he  is,  of  course,  free  to  leave  his  master,  he  is 
at  once  traced,  and  good  care  is  taken  that  he  does  not 
get  employment  elsewhere. 

In  the  fifties  of  the  last  century,  when  planters  first 
began  to  settle  in  the  Wynad,  they  purchased  the  land 
with  the  Paniyans  living  on  it,  who  were  practically  slaves 
of  the  land-owners.  The  Paniyans  used  formerly  to  be 
employed  by  rich  receivers  as  professional  coffee  thieves, 
going  out  by  night  to  strip  the  bushes  of  their  berries, 
which  were  delivered  to  the  receiver  before  morning. 
Unlike  the  Badagas  of  the  Nilgiris,  who  are  also  coffee 
thieves,  and  are  afraid  to  be  out  after  dark,  the  Paniyans 


are  not  afraid  of  bogies  by  night,  and  would  not  hesitate 
to  commit  nocturnal  depredations.  My  friend,  Mr.  G. 
Romilly,  on  whose  estate  my  investigation  of  the 
Paniyans  was  mainly  carried  out,  assures  me  that, 
according  to  his  experience,  the  domesticated  Paniyan, 
if  well  paid,  is  honest,  and  fit  to  be  entrusted  with  the 
responsible  duties  of  night  watchman. 

In  some  localities,  where  the  Janmis  have  sold  the 
bulk  of  their  land,  and  have  consequently  ceased  to  find 
regular  employment  for  them,  the  Paniyans  have  taken 
kindly  to  working  on  coffee  estates,  but  comparatively  few 
are  thus  employed.  The  word  Paniyan  means  labourer, 
and  they  believe  that  their  original  occupation  was 
agriculture  as  it  is,  for  the  most  part,  at  the  present  day. 
Those,  however,  who  earn  their  livelihood  on  estates, 
only  cultivate  rice  and  ragi  {Eleusine  coracana)  for 
their  own  cultivation ;  and  women  and  children  may  be 
seen  digging  up  jungle  roots,  or  gathering  pot-herbs  for 
food.  They  will  not  eat  the  fiesh  of  jackals,  snakes, 
vultures,  lizards,  rats,  or  other  vermin.  But  I  am  told 
that  they  eat  land- crabs,  in  lieu  of  expensive  lotions,  to 
prevent  baldness  and  grey  hairs.  They  have  a  distinct 
partiality  for  alcohol,  and  those  who  came  to  be  measured 
by  me  were  made  more  than  happy  by  a  present  of 
a  two-anna  piece,  a  cheroot,  and  a  liberal  allowance 
of  undiluted  fiery  brandy  from  the  Meppadi  bazar. 
The  women  are  naturally  of  a  shy  disposition,  and 
used  formerly  to  run  away  and  hide  at  the  sight  of  a 
European.  They  were  at  first  afraid  to  come  and  see 
me,  but  confidence  was  subsequently  established,  and 
all  the  women  came  to  visit  me,  some  to  go  through 
the  ordeal  of  measurement,  others  to  laugh  at  and  make 
derisive  comments  on  those  who  were  undergoing  the 


Practically  the  whole  of  the  rice  cultivation  in  the 
Wynad  is  carried  out  by  the  Paniyans  attached  to  edoms 
(houses  or  places)  or  devasoms  (temple  property)  of  the 
great  Nayar  landlords ;  and  Chettis  and  Mappillas  also 
frequently  have  a  few  Paniyans,  whom  they  have  bought 
or  hired  by  the  year  at  from  four  to  eight  rupees  per 
family  from  a  Janmi.  When  planting  paddy  or  herding 
cattle,  the  Paniyan  is  seldom  seen  without  the  kontai 
or  basket-work  protection  from  the  rain.  This  curious, 
but  most  effective  substitute  for  the  umbrella-hat  of  the 
Malabar  coast,  is  made  of  split  reeds  interwoven  with 
*  arrow-root '  leaves,  and  shaped  something  like  a  huge 
inverted  coal-scoop  turned  on  end,  and  gives  to  the 
individual  wearing  it  the  appearance  of  a  gigantic  mush- 
room. From  the  nature  of  his  daily  occupation  the 
Paniyan  is  often  brought  in  contact  with  wild  animals,  and 
is  generally  a  bold,  and,  if  excited,  as  he  usually  is  on  an 
occasion  such  as  the  netting  of  a  tiger,  a  reckless  fellow. 
The  young  men  of  the  villages  vie  with  each  other  in 
the  zeal  which  they  display  in  carrying  out  the  really 
dangerous  work  of  cutting  back  the  jungle  to  within  a 
couple  of  spear-lengths  of  the  place  where  the  quarry  lies 
hidden,  and  often  make  a  show  of  their  indifference  by 
turning  and  conversing  with  their  friends  outside  the  net. 

Years  ago  it  was  not  unusual  for  people  to  come  long 
distance  for  the  purpose  of  engaging  Wynad  Paniyans 
to  help  them  in  carrying  out  some  more  than  usually 
desperate  robbery  or  murder.  Their  mode  of  procedure, 
when  engaged  in  an  enterprise  of  this  sort,  is  evidenced 
by  two  cases,  which  had  in  them  a  strong  element  of 
savagery.  On  both  these  occasions  the  thatched  home- 
steads were  surrounded  at  dead  of  night  by  gangs  of 
Paniyans  carrying  large  bundles  of  rice  straw.  After 
carefully  piling  up  the  straw  on  all  sides  of  the  building 


marked  for  destruction,  torches  were,  at  a  given  signal, 
applied,  and  those  of  the  wretched  inmates  who  attempted 
to  escape  were  knocked  on  the  head  with  clubs,  and 
thrust  into  the  fiery  furnace. 

The  Paniyans  settle  down  happily  on  estates,  living 
in  a  settlement  consisting  of  rows  of  huts  and  detached 
huts,  single  or  double  storied,  built  of  bamboo  and 
thatched.  During  the  hot  weather,  in  the  unhealthy 
months  which  precede  the  advent  of  the  south-west 
monsoojn,  they  shift  their  quarters  to  live  near  streams, 
or  in  other  cool,  shady  spots,  returning  to  their  head 
quarters  when  the  rains  set  in. 

They  catch  fish  either  by  means  of  big  flat  bamboo 
mats,  or,  in  a  less  orthodox  manner,  by  damming  a  stream 
and  poisoning  the  water  with  herbs,  bark,  and  fruit, 
which  are  beaten  to  a  pulp  and  thrown  into  the  water. 
The  fish,  becoming  stupified,  float  on  the  surface,  and 
fall  an  easy  and  unfairly  earned  prey. 

It  is  recorded  by  Mr.  H.  C.  Wilson  *  that  the  section 
of  the  Moyar  river  "  stretching  from  the  bottom  of  the 
Pykara  falls  down  to  the  sheer  drop  into  the  Mysore 
ditch  below  Teppakadu  is  occupied  principally  by  Car- 
natic  carp.  In  the  upper  reaches  I  found  traces  of  small 
traps  placed  across  side  runners  or  ditches,  which  were 
then  dry.  They  had  evidently  been  in  use  during  the 
last  floods,  and  allowed  to  remain.  Constructed  of 
wood  in  the  shape  of  a  large  rake  head  with  long  teeth 
close  together,  they  are  fastened  securely  across  the  ditch 
or  runner  at  a  slight  angle  with  teeth  in  the  gravel. 
The  object  is  to  catch  the  small  fry  which  frequent  these 
side  places  for  protection  during  flood  times.  Judging 
by  their  primitive  nature  and  poor  construction,  they  are 

•  Report  on  the  Methods  of  Capture  and  Supply  of  Fish  in  the  Rivers  of  the 
Nilgiri  district,  1907. 


not  effective,  but  will  do  a  certain  amount  of  damage. 
The  nearest  hamlet  to  this  place  is  called  Torappalli, 
occupied  by  a  few  fisher  people  called  Paniyans.  These 
are  no  doubt  the  makers  of  the  traps,  and,  from  infor- 
mation I  received,  they  are  said  to  possess  better  fry 
and  other  traps.  They  are  also  accredited  with  having 
fine-mesh  nets,  which  they  use  when  the  waters  are  low." 

In  1907,  rules  were  issued,  under  the  Indian 
Fisheries  Act,  IV  of  1897,  for  the  protection  of  fish  in 
the  Bhavani  and  Moyar  rivers.  These  rules  referred  to 
the  erection  and  use  of  fixed  engines,  the  construction  of 
weirs,  and  the  use  of  nets,  the  meshes  of  which  are  less 
than  one  and  a  half  inches  square  for  the  capture  or 
destruction  of  fish,  and  the  prohibition  of  fishing  between 
the  15th  March  and  15th  September  annually.  Notice 
of  the  rules  was  given  by  beat  of  tom-tom  (drum)  in  the 
villages  lying  on  the  banks  of  the  rivers,  to  which  the 
rules  applied. 

The  Paniyan  language  is  a  debased  Malayalam  patois 
spoken  in  a  curious  nasal  sing-song,  difficult  to  imitate ; 
but  most  of  the  Paniyans  employed  on  estates  can  also 
converse  in  Kanarese. 

Wholly  uneducated  and  associating  with  no  other 
tribes,  the  Paniyans  have  only  very  crude  ideas  of 
religion.  Believing  in  devils  of  all  sorts  and  sizes,  and 
professing  to  worship  the  Hindu  divinities,  they  rever- 
ence especially  the  god  of  the  jungles,  Kad  Bhagavadi, 
or,  according  to  another  version,  a  deity  called  Kuli, 
a  malignant  and  terrible  being  of  neither  sex,  whose 
shrines  take  the  form  of  a  stone  placed  under  a  tree,  or 
sometimes  a  cairn  of  stones.  At  their  rude  shrines  they 
contribute  as  offerings  to  the  swami  (god)  rice  boiled 
in  the  husk,  roasted  and  pounded,  half-a-cocoanut,  and 
small  coins.     The  banyan  and  a  lofty  tree,  apparently  of 


the  fig  tribe,  are  reverenced  by  them,  inasmuch  as  evil 
spirits  are  reputed  to  haunt  them  at  times.  Trees  so 
haunted  must  not  be  touched,  and,  if  the  Paniyans 
attempt  to  cut  them,  they  fall  sick. 

Some  Paniyans  are  believed  to  be  gifted  with  the 
power  of  changing  themselves  into  animals  ;  and  there  is 
a  belief  among  the  Paniyan  dwellers  in  the  plains  that, 
if  they  wish  to  secure  a  woman  whom  they  lust  after, 
one  of  the  men  gifted  with  this  special  power  goes  to 
her  house  at  night  with  a  hollow  bamboo,  and  encircles 
the  house  three  times.  The  woman  then  comes  out,  and 
the  man,  changing  himself  into  a  bull  or  dog,  works  his 
wicked  will.  The  woman,  it  is  believed,  dies  in  the 
course  of  two  or  three  days. 

In  1904  some  Paniyans  were  employed  by  a  Map- 
pilla  (Muhammadan)  to  murder  his  mistress,  who  was 
pregnant,  and  threatened  that  she  would  noise  abroad 
his  responsibility  for  her  condition.  He  brooded  over 
the  matter,  and  one  day,  meeting  a  Paniyan,  promised 
him  ten  rupees  if  he  would  kill  the  woman.  The 
Paniyan  agreed  to  commit  the  crime,  and  went  with  his 
brothers  to  a  place  on  a  hill,  where  the  Mappilla  and  the 
woman  were  in  the  habit  of  gratifying  their  passions. 
Thither  the  man  and  woman  followed  the  Paniyans,  of 
whom  one  ran  out,  and  struck  his  victim  on  the  head 
with  a  chopper.  She  was  then  gagged  with  a  cloth, 
carried  some  distance,  and  killed.  The  two  Paniyans  and 
the  Mappilla  were  sentenced  to  be  hanged. 

Monogamy  appears  to  be  the  general  rule  among 
the  Paniyans,  but  there  is  no  obstacle  to  a  man  taking 
unto  himself  as  many  wives  as  he  can  afford  to  support. 

Apparently  the  bride  is  selected  for  a  young  man 
by  his  parents,  and,  in  the  same  way  that  a  wealthy 
European  sometimes  sends  his  betrothed  a  daily  present 


of  a  bouquet,  the  more  humble  Paniyan  bridegroom- 
elect  has  to  take  a  bundle  of  firewood  to  the  house  of 
the  fiancee  every  day  for  six  months.  The  marriage 
ceremony  (and  the  marriage  knot  does  not  appear  to  be 
very  binding)  is  of  a  very  simple  nature.  The  ceremony 
is  conducted  by  a  Paniyan  Chemmi  (a  corruption  of 
Janmi).  A  present  of  sixteen  fanams  (coins)  and  some 
new  cloths  is  given  by  the  bridegroom  to  the  Chemmi, 
who  hands  them  over  to  the  parents  of  the  bride.  A 
feast  is  prepared,  at  which  the  Paniyan  women  (Panichis) 
dance  to  the  music  of  drum  and  pipe.  The  tali  (or 
marriage  badge)  is  tied  round  the  neck  of  the  bride  by 
the  female  relations  of  the  bridegroom,  who  also  invest 
the  bride  with  such  crude  jewelry  as  they  may  be  able 
to  afford.  The  Chemmi  seals  the  contract  by  pouring 
water  over  the  head  and  feet  of  the  young  couple.  It  is 
said  *  that  a  husband  has  to  make  an  annual  present  to 
his  wife's  parents  ;  and  failure  to  do  so  entitles  them  to 
demand  their  daughter  back.  A  man  may,  I  was  told, 
not  have  two  sisters  as  wives  ;  nor  may  he  marry  his 
deceased  wife's  sister.  Remarriage  of  widows  is  per- 
mitted. Adultery  and  other  forms  of  vice  are  adjudicated 
on  by  a  panchayat  (or  council)  of  headmen,  who  settle 
disputes  and  decide  on  the  fine  or  punishment  to  be 
inflicted  on  the  guilty.  At  nearly  every  considerable 
Paniyan  village  there  is  a  headman  called  Kuttan,  who  has 
been  appointed  by  Nayar  Janmi  to  look  after  his  interests, 
and  be  responsible  to  him  for  the  other  inhabitants  of 
the  village.  The  investiture  of  the  Kuttan  with  the 
powers  of  office  is  celebrated  with  a  feast  and  dance,  at 
which  a  bangle  is  presented  to  the  Kuttan  as  a  badge  of 
authority.     Next  in  rank  to  the  Kuttan  is  the  Mudali 

•  Gazetteer  of  the  Malabar  district. 


or  head  of  the  family,  and  they  usually  constitute  the 
panchayat.  Both  Kuttan  and  Mudali  are  called  Muppan- 
mar  or  elders.  The  whole  caste  is  sometimes  loosely 
spoken  of  as  Muppan.  In  a  case  of  proved  adultery,  a 
fine  of  sixteen  fanams  (the  amount  of  the  marriage  fee), 
and  a  sum  equal  to  the  expenses  of  the  wedding,  includ- 
ing the  present  to  the  parents  of  the  bride,  is  the  usual 
form  of  punishment. 

The  Chemmi  or  Shemmi  is,  I  am  informed,  a  sort  of 
priest  or  minister.  He  was  appointed,  in  olden  days,  by 
the  chieftains  under  whom  the  Paniyans  worked,  and  each 
Chemmi  held  authority  over  a  group  of  villages.  The 
office  is  hereditary,  but,  should  a  Chemmi  family  fail,  it 
can  be  filled  up  by  election. 

No  ceremony  takes  place  in  celebration  of  the  birth 
of  children.  One  of  the  old  women  of  the  village  acts 
as  midwife,  and  receives  a  small  present  in  return  for  her 
services.  As  soon  as  a  child  is  old  enough  to  be  of  use, 
it  accompanies  its  parents  to  their  work,  or  on  their 
fishing  and  hunting  expeditions,  and  is  initiated  into  the 
various  ways  of  adding  to  the  stock  of  provisions  for  the 

The  dead  are  buried  in  the  following  manner.  A 
trench,  four  or  five  feet  deep,  and  large  enough  to  receive 
the  body  to  be  interred,  is  dug,  due  north  and  south,  on 
a  hill  near  the  village.  At  the  bottom  of  this  excavation 
the  earth  is  scooped  out  from  the  western  side  on  a  level 
with  the  floor  throughout  the  length  of  the  grave,  so  as 
to  form  a  receptacle  for  the  corpse,  which,  placed  on  a 
mat,  is  laid  therein  upon  its  left  side  with  the  head 
pointing  to  the  south  and  the  feet  to  the  north.  After  a 
little  cooked  rice  has  been  put  into  the  grave  for  the  use  of 
the  departed  spirit,  the  mat,  which  has  been  made  broad 
enough  for  the  purpose,  is  folded  up  and  tucked  in  under 


the  roof  of  the  cavity,  and  the  trench  filled  up.  It  has 
probably  been  found  by  experience  that  the  corpse,  when 
thus  protected,  is  safe  from  the  ravages  of  scavenger 
jackals  and  pariah  dogs.  For  seven  days  after  death,  a 
little  rice  gruel  is  placed  at  distance  of  from  fifty  to  a 
hundred  yards  from  the  grave  by  the  Chemmi,  who  claps 
his  hands  as  a  signal  to  the  evil  spirits  in  the  vicinity, 
who,  in  the  shape  of  a  pair  of  crows,  are  supposed  to 
partake  of  the  food,  which  is  hence  called  kaka  conji  or 
crow's  rice. 

The  noombu  or  mourning  ceremonies  are  the  tl  polay, 
seven  days  after  death  ;  the  kaka  polay  or  karuvelli  held 
for  three  years  in  succession  in  the  month  of  Magaram 
(January- February) ;  and  the  matham  polay  held  once  in 
every  three  or  four  years,  when  possible,  as  a  memorial 
service  in  honour  of  those  who  are  specially  respected. 
On  all  these  occasions  the  Chemmi  presides,  and  acts  as 
a  sort  of  master  of  the  ceremonies.  As  the  ceremonial 
carried  out  differs  only  in  degree,  an  account  of  the  kaka 
polay  will  do  for  all. 

In  the  month  of  Magaram,  the  noombukarrans  or 
mourners  (who  have  lost  relatives)  begin  to  cook  and 
eat  in  a  pandal  or  shed  set  apart  from  the  rest  of  the 
village,  but  otherwise  go  about  their  business  as  usual. 
They  wash  and  eat  twice  a  day,  but  abstain  from  eating 
meat  or  fish.  On  the  last  day  of  the  month,  arrangements 
are  made,  under  the  supervision  of  the  Chemmi,  for  the 
ceremony  which  brings  the  period  of  mourning  to  a 
close.  The  mourners,  who  have  fasted  since  daybreak, 
take  up  their  position  in  the  pandal,  and  the  Chemmi, 
holding  on  his  crossed  arms  two  winnowing  sieves,  each 
containing  a  seer  or  two  of  rice,  walks  round  three 
times,  and  finally  deposits  the  sieves  in  the  centre  of  the 
pandal.     If,  among  the  male  relatives  of  the  deceased. 


one  is  to  be  found  sufficiently  hysterical,  or  actor 
enough,  to  simulate  possession  and  perform  the  functions 
of  an  oracle,  well  and  good ;  but,  should  they  all  be  of 
a  stolid  temperament,  there  is  always  at  hand  a  pro- 
fessional corresponding  to  the  Komaran  or  Vellichipad 
of  other  Hindus.  This  individual  is  called  the  Pataly- 
karan.  With  a  new  cloth  (mundu)  on  his  head,  and 
smeared  on  the  body  and  arms  with  a  paste  made  of 
rice  flour  and  ghi  (clarified  butter),  he  enters  on  the  scene 
with  his  legs  girt  with  bells,  the  music  of  which  is 
supposed  to  drive  away  the  attendant  evil  spirits  (payan- 
mar).  Advancing  with  short  steps  and  rolling  his  eyes, 
he  staggers  to  and  fro,  sawing  the  air  with  two  small 
sticks  which  he  holds  in  either  hand,  and  works  himself 
up  into  a  frenzied  state  of  inspiration,  while  the  mourners 
cry  out  and  ask  why  the  dead  have  been  taken  away 
from  them.  Presently  a  convulsive  shiver  attacks  the 
performer,  who  staggers  more  violently  and  falls  prostrate 
on  the  ground,  or  seeks  the  support  of  one  of  the  posts 
of  the  pandal,  while  he  gasps  out  disjointed  sentences, 
which  are  taken  to  be  the  words  of  the  god.  The 
mourners  now  make  obeisance,  and  are  marked  on  the 
forehead  with  the  paste  of  rice  flour  and  gh!.  This 
done,  a  mat  is  spread  for  the  accommodation  of  the 
headmen  and  Chemmi ;  and  the  Patalykaran,  from  whose 
legs  the  bells  have  been  removed  and  put  with  the  rice 
in  the  sieves,  takes  these  in  his  hands,  and,  shaking  them 
as  he  speaks,  commences  a  funeral  chant,  which  lasts  till 
dawn.  Meanwhile  food  has  been  prepared  for  all  present 
except  the  mourners,  and  when  this  has  been  partaken 
of,  dancing  is  kept  up  round  the  central  group  till  day- 
break, when  the  pandal  is  pulled  down  and  the  kaka 
polay  is  over.  Those  who  have  been  precluded  from 
eating  make   up  for  lost  time,  and  relatives,  who  have 



allowed  their  hair  to  grow  long,  shave.  The  ordinary 
Paniyan  does  not  profess  to  know  the  meaning  of  the 
funeral  orations,  but  contents  himself  with  a  belief  that 
it  is  known  to  those  who  are  initiated.  The  women 
attend  the  ceremony,  but  do  not  take  part  in  the  dance. 
In  fact,  the  nearest  approach  to  a  dance  that  they  ever 
attempt  (and  this  only  on  festive  occasions)  resembles 
the  ordinary  occupation  of  planting  rice,  carried  out  in 
dumb  show  to  the  music  of  a  drum.  The  bodies  of  the 
performers  stoop  and  move  in  time  with  the  music,  and 
the  arms  are  swung  from  side  to  side  as  in  the  act  of 
placing  the  rice  seedlings  in  their  rows.  To  see  a  long 
line  of  Paniyan  women,  up  to  their  knees  in  the  mud  of 
a  rice  field,  bobbing  up  and  down  and  putting  on  the 
pace  as  the  music  grows  quicker  and  quicker,  and  to 
hear  the  wild  yells  of  Hou  !  Hou !  like  a  chorus  of  hungry 
dogs,  which  form  the  vocal  accompaniment  as  they  dab 
the  green  bunches  in  from  side  to  side,  is  highly  amusing. 
The  foregoing  account  of  the  Paniyan  death  cere- 
monies was  supplied  by  Mr.  Colin  Mackenzie,  to  whom, 
as  also  to  Mr.  F.  Fawcett,  Mr.  G.  Romilly,  and  Martelli, 
I  am  indebted  for  many  of  the  facts  recorded  in  the 
present  note.  From  Mr.  Fawcett  the  following  account 
of  a  further  ceremony  was  obtained  : — 

At  a  Paniyan  village,  on  a  coffee  estate  where  the 
annual  ceremony  was  being  celebrated,  men  and  boys 
were  dancing  round  a  wooden  upright  to  the  music  of  a 
small  drum  hanging  at  the  left  hip.  Some  of  the  dancers 
had  bells  round  the  leg  below  the  knee.  Close  to  the 
upright  a  man  was  seated,  playing  a  pipe,  which  emitted 
sounds  like  those  of  a  bagpipe.  In  dancing,  the  dancers 
went  round  against  the  sun.  At  some  little  distance  a 
crowd  of  females  indulged  in  a  dance  by  themselves.  A 
characteristic   of  the  dance,  specially  noticeable  among 


the  women,  was  stooping  and  waving  of  the  arms  in  front. 
The  dancers  perspired  freely,  and  kept  up  the  dance  for 
many  hours  to  rhythmic  music,  the  tune  of  which  changed 
from  time  to  time.  There  were  three  chief  dancers,  of 
whom  one  represented  the  goddess,  the  others  her 
ministers.  They  were  smeared  with  streaks  on  the  chest, 
abdomen,  arms  and  legs,  had  bells  on  the  legs,  and 
carried  a  short  stick  about  two  feet  in  length  in  each 
hand.  The  sticks  were  held  over  the  head,  while  the 
performers  quivered  as  if  in  a  religious  frenzy.  Now  and 
again,  the  sticks  were  waved  or  beaten  together.  The 
Paniyans  believe  that,  when  the  goddess  first  appeared 
to  them,  she  carried  two  sticks  in  her  hands.  The  mock 
goddess  and  her  attendants,  holding  the  sticks  above  the 
head  and  shivering,  went  to  each  male  elder,  and  appa- 
rently received  his  blessing,  the  elder  placing  his  hand 
on  their  faces  as  a  form  of  salutation,  and  then  applying 
his  hand  to  his  own  face.  The  villagers  partook  of  a 
light  meal  in  the  early  morning,  and  would  not  eat  again 
until  the  end  of  the  ceremony,  which  concluded  by  the 
man-goddess  seating  himself  on  the  upright,  and  addres- 
sing the  crowd  on  behalf  of  the  goddess  concerning  their 
conduct  and  morality. 

The  Paniyans  "  worship  animistic  deities,  of  which 
the  chief  is  Kuli,  whom  they  worship  on  a  raised  plat- 
form called  Kulitara,  offering  cocoanuts,  but  no  blood."  * 
They  further  worship  Kattu  Bhagavati,  or  Bhagavati  of 
the  woods.  "  Shrines  in  her  honour  are  to  be  found  at 
most  centres  of  the  caste,  and  contain  no  image,  but  a 
box  in  which  are  kept  the  clothing  and  jewels  presented 
to  her  by  the  devout.  An  annual  ceremony  lasting  a 
week  is  held  in  her  honour,  at  which  the  Komaran  and 

*  Gazetteer  of  Malabar, 

paniyan  70 

a  kind  of  priest,  called  Nolambukaran,  take  the  chief 
parts.  The  former  dresses  in  the  goddess'  clothing,  and 
the  divine  afflatus  descends  upon  him,  and  he  prophesies 
both  good  and  evil." 

Games. — A  long  strip  of  cane  is  suspended  from  the 
branch  of  a  tree,  and  a  cross-bar  fixed  to  its  lower 
end.  On  the  bar  a  boy  sits,  and  swings  himself  in  all 
directions.  In  another  game  a  bar,  twelve  to  fourteen 
feet  in  length,  is  balanced  by  means  of  a  point  in  a  socket 
on  an  upright  reaching  about  four  feet  and-a-half  above 
the  ground.  Over  the  end  of  the  horizontal  bar  a  boy 
hangs,  and,  touching  the  ground  with  the  feet,  spins 
himself  round. 

Some  Paniyans  have  a  thread  tied  round  the  wrist, 
ankle,  or  neck,  as  a  charm  to  ward  off  fever  and  other 
diseases.  Some  of  the  men  have  the  hair  of  the  head 
hanging  down  in  matted  tails  in  performance  of  a  vow. 
The  men  wear  brass,  steel,  and  copper  rings  on  their 
fingers  and  brass  rings  in  the  ears. 

The  women,  in  like  manner,  wear  finger  rings,  and, 
in  addition,  bangles  on  the  wrist,  and  have  the  lobes  of 
the  ears  widely  dilated,  and  plugged  with  cadjan  (palm 
leat)  rolls.  In  some  the  nostril  is  pierced,  and  plugged 
with  wood. 

The  Paniyans,  who  dwell  in  settlements  at  the  base 
of  the  ghats,  make  fire  by  what  is  known  as  the  Malay 
or  sawing  method  A  piece  of  bamboo,  about  a  foot  in 
length,  in  which  two  nodes  are  included,  is  split  longi- 
tudinally into  two  equal  parts.  On  one  half  a  sharp  edge 
is  cut  with  a  knife.  In  the  other  a  longitudinal  slit  is 
made  through  about  two-thirds  of  its  length,  which  is 
stuffed  with  a  piece  of  cotton  cloth.  It  is  then  held 
firmly  on  the  ground  with  its  convex  surface  upwards, 
and  the  cutting  edge  drawn,  with  a  gradually  quickening 



sawing  motion,  rapidly  to  and  fro  across  it  by  two  men, 
until  the  cloth  is  ignited  by  the  incandesent  particles  of 
wood  in  the  groove  cut  by  the  sharp  edge.  The  cloth  is 
then  blown  with  the  lips  into  a  blaze,  and  the  tobacco  or 
cooking  fire  can  be  lighted. 

At  Pudupadi  an  elephant  mahout  was  jealously 
guarding  a  bit  of  bamboo  stick  with  notches  cut  in  it, 
each  notch  representing  a  day  for  which  wages  were 
due  to  him.  The  stick  in  question  had  six  notches, 
representing  six  days'  wages. 

Average  height  i57'4  cm.  Nasal  index  95  (max. 
1 08 '6).  The  average  distance  from  the  tip  of  the  middle 
finger  to  the  top  of  the  patella  was  4*6  cm.  relative  to 
stature  =  100,  which  approximates  very  closely  to  the 
recorded  results  of  measurement  of  long-limbed  African 

Panjai.^Recorded,  in  the  Madras  Census  Report, 
1 901,  as  a  sub-division  of  Pandya  Vellala.  The  name 
Panjai,  indicating  a  poverty-stricken  individual,  is  usually 
applied  to  mendicant  Pandarams. 

Panjaram.— Panjaram  or  Pancharamkatti  is  the 
name  of  a  sub-division  of  the  Idaiyans,  derived  from  the 
peculiar  gold  ornament,  which  the  women  wear.  It  is 
said  that,  in  this  division,  widow  marriage  is  commonly 
practiced,  because  Krishna  used  to  place  a  similar  orna- 
ment round  the  necks  of  Idaiyan  widows  of  whom  he 
became  enamoured,  and  that  this  sub-division  was  the 
result  of  his  amours  with  them. 

Panjukkara  (cotton-man). — An  occupational  name 
of  a  sub-division  of  Vellalas,  who  are  not  at  the  present 
day  connected  with  the  cotton  trade.  They  call  them- 
selves Panjukkara  Chettis.  The  equivalent  panjari 
(pinjari)  or  Panjukotti  occurs  as  a  Tamil  synonym  for 
Dudekula  (Muhammadan  cotton-cleaners). 

pannAdai  72 

Pannadai  (sheath  of  the  cocoanut  leaf). — A  sub- 
division of  Vettuvan. 

Pannaiyan. — A  title  of  Alavan. 

Pannara. — A  sub-division  of  Mali. 

Pannendu  Nal  (twelve  days). — A  name  for  those 
Pallis  who,  like  Brahmans,  perform  the  final  death 
ceremonies  on  the  twelfth  day. 

Pannirendam  (twelfth)  Chetti. — A  section  of  the 

Pano.— In  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1891,  the 
Panos  are  described  as  "  a  caste  of  weavers  found  in  the 
Ganjam  district.  This  caste  is  no  doubt  identical  with 
the  Pans,  a  weaving,  basket-making,  and  servile  caste 
of  Orissa  and  Chota  Nagpore.  The  Panos  occupy  the 
same  position  among  the  Khonds  of  Ganjam  as  the 
Dombs  hold  among  the  inhabitants  of  the  Vizagapatam 
hills,  and  the  words  Pano  and  Dombo  are  generally 
regarded  as  synonyms  [See  Domb].  The  members  of  the 
Sitra  sub-division  are  workers  in  metal."  It  is  further 
noted,  in  the  Census  Report,  1901,  that  the  Panos  are 
"an  extensive  caste  of  hill  weavers  found  chiefly  in  the 
Ganjam  Agency.  The  Khond  synonym  for  this  word 
is  Domboloko,  which  helps  to  confirm  the  connection 
between  this  caste  and  the  Dombas  of  Vizagapatam. 
They  speak  Khond  and  Oriya."  In  a  note  on  the  Panos, 
I  read  that  "  their  occupations  are  trading,  weaving,  and 
theft.  They  live  on  the  ignorance  and  superstition  of 
the  Khonds  as  brokers,  pedlars,  sycophants,  and  cheats. 
In  those  parts  where  there  are  no  Oriyas,  they  possess 
much  influence,  and  are  always  consulted  by  the  Khonds 
in  questions  of  boundary  disputes."  In  a  brief  account 
of  the  Panos,   Mr.  C.  F.  MacCartie  writes  *  that  "  the 

*  Madras  Census  Beport,  1 88 1. 

73  pANO 

Panos,  also  known  by  the  title  of  Dombo  or  Sitra  in  some 
parts,  are  supposed  to  be  Paraiya  [Telugu  Mala] 
emigrants  from  the  low  country.  Their  profession  is 
weaving  or  brass  work,  the  monotony  of  which  they  vary 
by  petty  trading  in  horns,  skins  and  live  cattle,  and 
occasionally  enliven  by  house-breaking  and  theft  at  the 
expense  of  the  Khonds,  who  have  an  incautious  trick  of 
leaving  their  habitations  utterly  unguarded  when  they 
go  off  to  the  hills  to  cultivate.  [In  the  Madras  Census 
Report,  1 90 1,  the  Sitras  are  said  to  be  supposed  to  be 
the  progeny  of  a  Khond  man  and  a  Haddi  woman,  who 
manufacture  the  brass  rings  and  bangles  worn  by  the 
Khonds.]  The  Panos  are  drunken,  immoral,  and  dirty 
in  their  habits.  The  Khonds  refuse  to  eat  with  them, 
but  I  do  not  find  that  this  objection  extends  to  drinking, 
at  which  both  Khond  and  Pano  display  surprising 
capabilities.  Panos  are  also  the  professional  musicians 
of  the  country,  and  attend  weddings,  deaths  and  sacrifices 
in  this  character,  for  which  they  are  recompensed  with 
food,  liquor,  and  cloths.  The  generality  of  Khond  and 
Pano  houses  are  constructed  of  broad  sal  {Shorea  robustd) 
logs,  hewn  out  with  the  axe  and  thatched  with  jungle 
grass,  which  is  impervious  to  white-ants.  In  bamboo 
jungles,  of  course,  bamboo  is  substituted  for  s41.  The 
Panos  generally  affect  a  detached  quarter,  known  as 
Dombo  sai.  Intermarriage  between  Khonds,  Panos,  and 
Uriyas  is  not  recognised,  but  cases  do  occur  when  a 
Pano  induces  a  Khond  woman  to  go  off  with  him.  She 
may  live  with  him  as  his  wife,  but  no  ceremony  takes 
place.  [A  few  years  ago,  a  young  Khond  was  betrothed 
to  the  daughter  of  another  Khond,  and,  after  a  few  years, 
managed  to  pay  up  the  necessary  number  of  gifts.  He 
then  applied  to  the  girl's  father  to  name  the  day  for  the 
marriage.     Before  the  wedding  took  place  however,  a 

PANO  74 

Pano  went  to  the  girl's  father,  and  said  that  she  was  his 
daughter  (she  had  been  born  before  her  parents  were 
married),  and  that  he  was  the  man  to  whom  the  gifts 
should  have  been  paid.  The  case  was  referred  to  a 
council,  which  decided  in  favour  of  the  Pano.]  If  a 
Pano  commits  adultery  with  a  Khond  married  woman, 
he  has  to  pay  a  paronjo,  or  a  fine  of  a  buffalo  to  the 
husband  (who  retains  his  wife),  and  in  addition  a  goat, 
a  pig,  a  basket  of  paddy  (rice),  a  rupee,  and  a  load  of 
pots.  There  is  close  communication  between  the  Panos 
and  the  Khonds,  as  the  former  act  as  the  advisers 
of  the  latter  in  all  cases  of  doubt  or  difficulty.  The 
Uriyas  live  apart  from  both,  and  mix  but  little  with 
either,  except  on  the  occasion  of  sacrifices  or  other  solemn 
assemblages,  when  buffaloes  are  slaughtered  for  Panos 
and  Khonds,  and  goats  or  sheep  for  Uriya  visitors. 
[It  is  noted,  in  the  Ganjam  Manual,  in  connection  with 
Khond  death  ceremonies,  that  "  if  a  man  has  been 
killed  by  a  tiger,  purification  is  made  by  the  sacrifice 
of  a  pig,  the  head  of  which  is  cut  off  with  a  tangi  (axe) 
by  a  Pano,  and  passed  between  the  legs  of  the  men 
in  the  village,  who  stand  in  a  line  astraddle.  It  is  a 
bad  omen  to  him,  if  the  head  touches  any  man's  legs.] 
Among  the  products  of  the  jungles  may  be  included 
myrabolams  {Terminalia  fruits),  tasar  silk  cocoons,  and 
dammer,  all  of  which  are  bartered  by  the  finders  to 
trading  Panos  in  small  quantities,  generally  for  salt." 
In  the  Ganjam  Maliahs,  the  jungles  are  said  to  be 
searched  by  Panos  for  tasar  cocoons,  and,  just  across 
the  border  in  Boad,  the  collection  of  these  cocoons 
is  a  regular  industry  among  them.  Small  portions  of 
jungle  are  regularly  reserved,  and  divided  up  into  small 
allotments.  Each  of  these  is  given  to  a  Pano  for  rent, 
and  here  he  cultivates  the  silkworms,  and  collects  the 

75  PANO 

silk,  which  is  sent  to  Berhampur  and  Sambalpur  for 

The  Panos  are  divided  into  two  distinct  sections, 
viz.,  the  Khonda  Panos  who  Hve  amidst  the  Khonds,  and 
the  Desa  Panos  of  the  plains.  The  former  have  adopted 
some  of  the  customs  of  the  Khonds,  while  the  latter  follow 
the  customs  of  the  Uriya  castes  which  dwell  in  the  low- 
land. The  Khond  Panos  are  governed  by  the  Molikos 
(headmen)  of  the  Khonds.  In  some  cases,  the  fines 
inflicted  for  breach  of  caste  rules  are  rather  severe.  For 
example,  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Baliguda,  a  man  who 
is  convicted  of  adultery  has  to  pay  two  rupees,  and 
give  two  buffaloes  to  the  council  which  tries  the  case. 
Further  south,  for  a  similar  offence  twelve  buffaloes  are 
demanded,  and  the  culprit  has  to  pay  twice  the  amount 
of  the  bride-price  to  the  injured  husband.  The  Desa 
Panos  conform  to  the  standard  Uriya  type  of  caste  coun- 
cil, and  have  a  headman  called  Behara,  who  is  assisted 
by  a  Nayako,  and  caste  servants  entitled  Bhollobaya 
or  Gonjari. 

The  marriage  ceremonies  of  the  Desa  Panos  are 
closely  allied  to  those  of  the  Dandasis  and  Haddis, 
whereas  those  of  the  Khonda  Panos  bear  a  close  resem- 
blance to  the  ceremonies  of  the  Khonds.  Like  Khond 
girls,  unmarried  Khond  Pano  girls  sleep  in  quarters 
(dhangadi)  specially  set  apart  for  them,  and,  as  among 
the  Khonds,  wedding  presents  in  the  form  of  gontis  are 
given.  It  is  noted  with  reference  to  the  Khonds,  in  the 
Ganjam  Manual,  that  "  the  bride  is  looked  upon  as  a 
commercial  speculation,  and  is  paid  for  in  gontis.  A 
gonti  is  one  of  anything,  such  as  a  buffalo,  a  pig,  or  a 
brass  pot ;  for  instance,  a  hundred  gontis  might  consist 
of  ten  bullocks,  ten  buffaloes,  ten  sacks  of  corn,  ten  sets 
of  brass,  twenty  sheep,  ten  pigs,  and  thirty  fowls."     At 

PANTA  76 

a  Khond  Pano  marriage,  the  fingers  of  the  contracting 
couple  are  linked  together,  and  an  important  item  of  the 
ceremonial,  which  adds  dignity  thereto,  is  placing  in  front 
of  the  house  at  which  a  marriage  is  being  celebrated  a 
big  brass  vessel  containing  water,  with  which  the  guests 
wash  their  feet. 

The  Panos  pay  reverence  to  ancestors,  to  whom, 
when  a  death  occurs  in  a  family,  food  is  offered.  In 
some  Pano  villages,  when  a  child  is  born,  it  is  customary 
to  consult  a  pujari  (priest)  as  to  whether  the  grandfather 
or  great-grandfather  is  re-born  in  it.  If  the  answer  is  in 
the  affirmative,  pigs  are  sacrificed  to  the  ancestors.  Some 
Panos  have  adopted  the  worship  of  Takuranis  (village 
deities),  to  whom  rice  and  turmeric  are  offered  by  placing 
them  before  the  image  in  the  form  of  a  figure-of-eight. 
A  fowl  is  sacrificed,  and  its  blood  allowed  to  flow  on  to 
one  loop  of  the  figure.  In  some  places,  Dharmadevata 
and  Gagnasuni  are  worshipped,  a  castrated  goat  being 
sacrificed  annually  to  the  former,  and  fowls  and  an  entire 
goat  to  the  latter. 

Pano  women,  who  live  among  the  Khonds,  tattoo 
their  faces  in  like  manner,  and  in  other  respects  resemble 
Khond  women. 

I  am  informed  that,  on  more  than  one  occasion, 
Panos  have  been  known  to  rifle  the  grave  of  a  European, 
in  the  belief  that  buried  treasure  will  be  found. 

Panta  (a  crop). — A  sub-division  of  Kapu  and 
Yanadi.  In  the  Gazetteer  of  South  Arcot,  Pan  Reddi 
is  recorded  as  a  caste  of  Telugu-speaking  ryots  (Kapus). 

Pantala.— Recorded,  in  Travancore,  as  a  sub- 
division of  Samantan.  The  name  is  said  to  be  derived 
from  Bhandarattil,  or  belonging  to  the  royal  treasury. 

Pantari.— Recorded,  in  the  Travancore  Census 
Report,  as  synonymous  with  the  Idacheri  sub-division 


of  Nayar.  Pantrantu  Vitan  is  also  there  recorded  as 
a  sub-division  of  Nayar. 

Pappadam. — People  calling  themselves  Pappadam 
Chetti  are  largely  found  in  Malabar,  living  by  the 
manufacture  and  sale  of  cakes  called  pappadam,  which 
are  purchased  by  all  classes,  including  Nambutiri 

Pappini.— A  name  for  Brahmanis,  a  class  of 

Pappu  (split  pulse). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Balija. 

Paradesi. — Recorded,  in  the  Madras  Census  Re- 
port, 1 90 1,  as  a  class  of  Malayalam  beggars.  The  name 
indicates  strangers  (paradesa,  a  foreign  country),  and  is 
applied  to  the  White  Jews  of  Cochin,  in  connection 
with  whom  it  occurs  in  Sirkar  (State)  accounts  and  royal 
writs  granted  to  them. 

Paraiya  Tada. — Recorded,  in  the  North  Arcot 
Manual,  as  a  name  for  those  who  are  considered 
impure  Valluvans.  The  name  literally  means  Paraiya 
Tadan  or  Dasari. 

Paraiyan.— The  Paraiyans  or,  as  they  are  commonly 
termed.  Pariahs  of  the  Tamil  country  number,  according 
to  recent  census  returns,  over  two  million  souls,  and  a 
large  proportion  of  those  who  returned  themselves  as 
Native  Christians  are  said  also  to  belong  to  this  class. 
For  the  following  note  I  am  mainly  indebted  to  an 
account  of  the  Paraiyans  by  the  Rev.  A.  C.  Clayton.* 

The  late  Bishop  Caldwell  derived  the  name  Paraiyan 
from  the  Tamil  word  parai  a  drum,  as  certain  Paraiyans 
act  as  drummers  at  marriages,  funerals,  village  festivals, 
and  on  occasions  when  Government  or  commercial 
announcements    are    proclaimed.     Mr.    H.    A.    Stuart, 

•  Madras  Mus.  Bull.,  V,  2,  1906. 


however,  seems  to  question  this  derivation,  remarking  * 
that  "it  is  only  one  section  of  Paraiyans  that  act  as 
drummers.  Nor  is  the  occupation  confined  to  Paraiyans. 
It  seems  in  the  highest  degree  improbable  that  a  large, 
and  at  one  time  powerful,  community  should  owe  its 
name  to  an  occasional  occupation,  which  one  of  its 
divisions  shares  with  other  castes.  The  word  Paraiyan 
is  not  found  in  Divakaram,  a  Tamil  dictionary  of  the 
eleventh  century  A.D.,  and  the  word  Pulayan  was  then 
used  to  denote  this  section  of  the  population,  as  it  is  still 
in  Malayalam  to  this  day."  In  the  legend  of  the  Saivite 
saint,  Nandan  is,  in  the  prose  version  of  the  Periya 
Puranam,  called  a  Pulayan,  though  a  native  of  Shola- 
mandalam,  which  was  a  distinctly  Tamil  kingdom.  Mr. 
W.  Francis  writes  f  that  "  the  old  Tamil  poems  and 
works  of  the  early  centuries  of  the  Christian  era  do  not 
mention  the  name  Paraiyan,  but  contain  many  descrip- 
tions of  a  tribe  called  the  Eyinas,  who  seem  to  have 
been  quite  distinct  from  the  rest  of  the  population,  and 
did  not  live  in  the  villages,  but  in  forts  of  their  own. 
Ambur  and  Vellore  are  mentioned  as  the  sites  of  two  of 
these.  They  may  perhaps  have  been  the  ancestors  of 
the  Paraiyans  of  to-day." 

In  a  note  on  the  Paraiyans,  Sonnerat,  writing  J  in 
the  eighteenth  century,  says  that  "  they  are  prohibited 
from  drawing  water  from  the  wells  of  other  castes  ;  but 
have  particular  wells  of  their  own  near  their  inhabita- 
tions, round  which  they  place  the  bones  of  animals,  that 
they  may  be  known  and  avoided.  When  an  Indian  of 
any  other  caste  permits  a  Paraiya  to  speak  to  him,  this 
unfortunate  being  is  obliged  to  hold  his  hand  before  his 
mouth,  lest  the  Indian  may  be  contaminated   with  his 

♦  Madras  Census  Report,  1891.  t  Madras  Census  Report,  1901. 

X  Voyage  to  the  East  Indies,  1774  and  1781, 


breath ;  and,  if  he  Is  met  on  the  highway,  he  must  turn 
on  one  side  to  let  the  other  pass.  If  any  Indian 
whatever,  even  a  Choutre,  by  accident  touches  a  Paraiya, 
he  is  obHged  to  purify  himself  in  a  bath.  The  Brahmans 
cannot  behold  them,  and  they  are  obHged  to  fly  when 
they  appear.  Great  care  is  taken  not  to  eat  anything 
dressed  by  a  Paraiya,  nor  even  to  drink  out  of  the  vessel 
he  has  used ;  they  dare  not  enter  the  house  of  an  Indian 
of  another  caste ;  or,  if  they  are  employed  in  any  work, 
a  door  is  purposely  made  for  them  ;  but  they  must  work 
with  their  eyes  on  the  ground ;  for,  if  it  is  perceived 
they  have  glanced  at  the  kitchen,  all  the  utensils  must 
be  broken.  The  infamy  of  the  Paraiyas  is  reflected  on 
the  Europeans :  last  are  held  in  more  detestation, 
because,  setting  aside  the  little  respect  they  have  for  the 
cow,  whose  flesh  they  eat,  the  Indians  reproach  them 
with  spitting  in  their  houses,  and  even  their  temples  : 
that  when  drinking  they  put  the  cup  to  their  lips,  and 
their  fingers  to  their  mouths  in  such  a  manner  that  they 
are  defiled  with  the  spittle." 

Paraiyans  are  to  be  found  throughout  the  Tamil 
districts  from  North  Arcot  to  Tinnevelly,  and  in  the 
southern  extremity  of  the  Native  State  of  Travancore. 
In  the  Telugu  country  the  Malas  and  Madigas  and  in 
the  Canarese  country  the  Holeyas  take  their  place. 

Some  of  the  most  common  names  of  Paraiyan  males 
are — 

Kanni  or 



Raman  or 














Among  females  the  most  common  names  are  Tai, 
Parpathi,  Ammai,  Kanni,  Muttammal,  Rajammal, 
Ammani,  Selli,  Gangammal.  In  one  village,  where  the 
Paraiyans  were  almost  all  Vaishnavas,  by  profession  not 
by  practice,  Mr.  Clayton  found  the  inhabitants  all  named 
after  heroes  of  the  Mahabharata,  and  dirty  naked  children 
answered  to  the  names  of  Ikshvakan,  Karnan,  Bhiman, 
and  Draupadi.  It  is  usual  to  give  the  father's  name 
when  distinguishing  one  Paraiyan  from  another,  e.g., 
Tamburan,  son  of  Kannan.  In  legal  documents  the 
prefix  Para  denotes  a  Paraiyan,  e.g.,  Para  Kanni,  the 
Paraiyan  Kanni,  but  this  is  a  purely  clerical  formula. 
The  Paraiyan  delights  in  nicknames,  and  men  some- 
times grow  so  accustomed  to  these  that  they  have  almost 
forgotten  their  real  names.  The  following  nicknames 
are  very  common  : — 

Nondi,  lame. 
Kalian,  thief. 
Kullan,  dwarf. 
Vellei,  white  or  light 

Kannan,  with  eyes. 
Muthalai,  crocodile. 
Kudiyan,  drunkard. 

No  name,  indicating  virtue  or  merit,  is  given,  lest 
the  wrath  of  malevolent  spirits  should  be  aroused. 

At  the  census,  1891,  348  sub-divisions  were  returned, 
of  which  the  following  were  strongest  in  point  of 
numbers  : — Amma  found  chiefly  in  Tanjore  and  Madura ; 
Katti  in  Salem  and  Trichinopoly ;  Kizhakkatti  (eastern) 
in  Salem  ;  Koliyan  (weavers)  in  Chingleput,  Tanjore  and 
Trichinopoly  ;  Konga  in  Salem  ;  Korava  in  Coimbatore  ; 
Kottai  (fort)  in  South  Arcot ;  Morasu  (drum)  in  Salem  ; 
Mottai  in  Madura ;  Pacchai  (green)  in  Coimbatore ; 
Samban  in  South  Arcot ;  Sangidum  (sanku,  conch,  or 
chank  shell)  in  Coimbatore ;  Sozhia  (natives  of  the 
Sozha  or   Chola    country)    in    Tanjore    and    Madura; 



Tangalan  in  North  and  South  Arcot,  Chingleput,  Salem, 
and  Trichinopoly  ;  and  Valangamattu  in  South  Arcot. 
The  members  of  the  various  sub-divisions  do  not 

It  has  been  suggested  to  me  that  the  Morasu 
Paraiyans,  included  in  the  above  list,  are  Canarese 
Holeyas,  who  have  settled  in  the  Tamil  country.  In  the 
south  their  women,  like  the  Kalians,  wear  a  horsehair 
thread  round  the  neck.  As  additional  sub-divisions, 
the  following  may  be  noted  : — 

Aruththukattdtha,  or  those  who,  having  once  cut 
the  tali-string,  do  not  tie   it  a  second  time,  z>.,  those 
who  do  not  permit  remarriage  of  widows. 
Valai  (a  net). — Paraiyans  who  hunt. 
Sanku  (conch-shell). — Those   who  act  as  conch- 
blowers  at  funerals. 

Thatha. — Thathan  is  the  name  given  to  mendicants 
who  profess  Vaishnavism.  Such  Paraiyans  are  Vaishna- 
vites,  and  some  are  beggars. 

In  the  Census  Report,  1901,  Mr.  Francis  notes  that 
the  term  Paraiyan  "  is  now  almost  a  generic  one,  and 
the  caste  is  split  up  into  many  sub-divisions,  which 
differ  in  manners  and  ways.  For  example,  the  Koliyans, 
who  are  weavers,  and  the  Valluvans,  who  are  medicine 
men  and  priests  and  wear  the  sacred  thread,  will  not 
intermarry  or  eat  with  the  others,  and  are  now  practically 
distinct  castes."  As  occupational  titles  of  Paraiyans 
Mr.  Francis  gives  Urumikkaran  and  Pambaikkaraii,  or 
those  who  play  on  drums  (urumi  and  pambai),  and 
Podarayan  or  Podara  Vannan,  who  are  washermen. 
The  title  Valangamattan,  or  people  of  the  right-hand 
division,  is  assumed  by  some  Paraiyans. 

Mr.  Clayton  states  that  he  knows  of  no  legend  or 
popular   belief  among   the    Paraiyans,    indicating   that 


they  believe  themselves  to  have  come  from  any  other 
part  of  the  country  than  that  where  they  now  find 
themselves.  There  is,  however,  some  evidence  that  the 
race  has  had  a  long  past,  and  one  in  which  they  had 
independence,  and  possibly  great  importance  in  the 
peninsula.  Mr.  Stuart  mentions  *  that  the  Valluvans 
were  priests  to  the  Pallava  kings  before  the  introduction 
of  the  Brahmans,  and  even  for  some  time  after  it.  He 
quotes  an  unpublished  Vatteluttu  inscription,  believed 
to  be  of  the  ninth  century,  in  which  it  is  noted  that 
"  Sri  Valluvam  Puvanavan,  the  Uvacchan  (or  temple 
ministrant),  will  employ  six  men  daily,  and  do  the  temple 
service."  The  inference  is  that  the  Valluvan  was  a  man 
of  recognised  priestly  rank,  and  of  great  influence.  The 
prefix  Sri  is  a  notable  honorific.  By  itself  this  inscrip- 
tion would  prove  little,  but  the  whole  legendary  history 
of  the  greatest  of  all  Tamil  poets,  Tiruvalluvar,  "  the 
holy  Valluvan,"  confirms  all  that  can  be  deduced  from 
it.  His  date  can  only  be  fixed  approximately,  but  it  is 
probable  that  he  flourished  not  later  than  the  tenth 
century  A.D.  It  is  safe  to  say  that  this  extraordinary 
sage  could  not  have  attained  the  fame  he  did,  or  have 
received  the  honours  that  were  bestowed  upon  him,  had 
not  the  Valluvans,  and  therefore  the  Paraiyans,  been  in 
the  circle  of  respectable  society  in  his  day.  This  conjec- 
ture is  strengthened  by  the  legend  that  he  married 
a  Vellala  girl.  The  same  hypothesis  is  the  only  one 
that  will  account  for  the  education  and  the  vogue  of  the 
sister  of  the  poet,  the  aphoristic  poetess  Avvei. 

In  the  Census  Report,  1901,  Mr.  Francis  mentions 
an  inscription  of  the  Ch5la  King  Raja  Raja,  dated  about 
the  eleventh  century  A.D.,  in  which  the  Paraiyan  caste  is 

*  Loc.  cit. 


called  by  its  own  name.  It  had  then  two  sub-divisions, 
the  Nesavu  or  weavers,  and  Ulavu  or  ploughmen. 
The  caste  had  even  then  its  own  hamlets,  wells  and 

There  are  certain  privileges  possessed  by  Paraiyans, 
which  they  could  never  have  gained  for  themselves  from 
orthodox  Hinduism.  They  seem  to  be  survivals  of  a 
past,  in  which  Paraiyans  held  a  much  higher  position 
than  they  do  now.  It  is  noted  by  Mr.  M.  J.  Walhouse* 
that  "in  the  great  festival  of  Siva  at  Trivalur  in  Tanjore 
the  headman  of  the  Pareyars  is  mounted  on  the  elephant 
with  the  god,  and  carries  his  chauri  (yak-tail  fly  fan). 
In  Madras,  at  the  annual  festival  of  Egatta,  the  god- 
dess of  the  Black,  t  now  George,  Town,  when  a  tali  is 
tied  round  the  neck  of  the  idol  in  the  name  of  the 
entire  community,  a  Pareyan  is  chosen  to  represent  the 
bridegroom.  At  Melkotta  in  Mysore,  the  chief  seat  of 
the  followers  of  Ramanuja  Acharya,  and  at  the  Brahman 
temple  at  Belur,  the  Holeyas  or  Pareyars  have  the  right 
of  entering  the  temple  on  three  days  in  the  year 
specially  set  apart  for  them."  At  Melkote,  the  Holeyas 
and  Madigas  are  said  to  have  been  granted  the  privilege 
of  entering  the  sanctum  sanctorum  along  with  Brahmans 
and  others  on  three  days  by  Ramanuja.  In  1799, 
however,  the  right  to  enter  the  temple  was  stopped  at 
the  dhvajastambham,  or  consecrated  monolithic  column. 
At  both  Belur  and  Melkote,  as  soon  as  the  festival  is 
over,  the  temples  are  ceremonially  purified.  At  Sri- 
perumbudur  in  the  Chingleput  district,  the  Paraiyans 
enjoy  a  similar  privilege  to  those  at  Tiruvalur,  in  return 
for  having  sheltered  an  image  of  the  locally-worshipped 

♦  Ind.  Ant.,  Ill,  1874. 

t  The    name  Black   Town   was    changed    to   Georgetown  to  commemorate 
the  visit  of  H.R.H.  the  Prince  of  Wales  to  Madras  in  1906. 
VI-6  B 


incarnation  of  Vishnu  during  a  Muhammadan  raid.  It 
is  noted  by  Mr.  Stuart  that  the  lower  village  offices,  the 
Vettiyan,  Taliari,  Dandasi  or  Barike,  and  the  Toti,  are, 
in  the  majority  of  Madras  villages,  held  by  persons  of 
the  Paraiyan  caste.  Paraiyans  are  allowed  to  take  part 
in  pulling  the  cars  of  the  idols  in  the  great  festivals  at 
Conjeeveram,  Kumbakonam,  and  Srivilliputtur.  Their 
touch  is  not  reckoned  to  defile  the  ropes  used,  so  that 
other  Hindus  will  pull  with  them.  With  this  may  be 
compared  the  fact  that  the  Telugu  Malas  are  custodians 
of  the  goddess  Gauri,  the  bull  Nandi,  and  Ganesa,  the 
chief  gods  of  the  Saiva  Kapus  and  Balijas.  It  may  also 
be  noted  that  the  Komatis,  who  claim  to  be  Vaisyas,  are 
bound  to  invite  Madigas  to  their  marriages,  though  they 
take  care  that  the  latter  do  not  hear  the  invitation.  Mr. 
Clayton  records  that  he  has  heard  well-authenticated 
instances  of  Brahman  women  worshipping  at  Paraiyan 
shrines  in  order  to  procure  children,  and  states  that  he 
once  saw  a  Paraiyan  exorciser  treating  a  Brahman  by 
uttering  mantrams  (consecrated  formulae),  and  waving  a 
sickle  up  and  down  the  sufferer's  back,  as  he  stood  in  a 
threshing  floor. 

In  a  note  on  the  Paraiyans  of  the  Trichinopoly  dis- 
trict, Mr.  F.  R.  Hemingway  writes  as  follows.  "  They 
have  a  very  exalted  account  of  their  lineage,  saying  that 
they  are  descended  from  the  Brahman  priest  Sala  Sam- 
bavan,  who  was  employed  in  a  Siva  temple  to  worship 
the  god  with  offerings  of  beef,  but  who  incurred  the 
anger  of  the  god  by  one  day  concealing  a  portion  of  the 
meat,  to  give  it  to  his  pregnant  wife,  and  was  therefore 
turned  into  a  Paraiyan.  The  god  appointed  his  brother 
to  do  duty  instead  of  him,  and  the  Paraiyans  say  that 
Brahman  priests  are  their  cousins.  For  this  reason  they 
wear  a   sacred  thread  at  their  marriages  and  funerals. 


At  the  festival  of  the  village  goddesses,  they  repeat  an 
extravagant  praise  of  their  caste,  which  runs  as  follows. 
'  The  Paraiyans  were  the  first  creation,  the  first  who  wore 
the  sacred  thread,  the  uppermost  in  the  social  scale,  the 
differentiators  of  castes,  the  winners  of  laurels.  They 
have  been  seated  on  the  white  elephant,  the  Vira 
Sambavans  who  beat  the  victorious  drum.'  It  is  a 
curious  fact  that,  at  the  feast  of  the  village  goddess, 
a  Paraiyan  is  honoured  by  being  invested  with  a  sacred 
thread  for  the  occasion  by  the  pujari  (priest)  of  the 
temple,  by  having  a  turmeric  thread  tied  to  his  wrists, 
and  being  allowed  to  head  the  procession.  This,  the 
Paraiyans  say,  is  owing  to  their  exalted  origin." 

In  times  of  drought  some  of  the  lower  orders,  instead 
of  addressing  their  prayers  to  the  rain  god  Varuna,  try 
to  induce  a  spirit  or  devata  named  Kodumpavi  (wicked 
one)  to  send  her  paramour  Sukra  to  the  affected  area. 
The  belief  seems  to  be  that  Sukra  goes  away  to  his 
concubine  for  about  six  months,  and,  if  he  does  not 
then  return,  drought  ensues.  The  ceremony  consists 
in  making  a  huge  figure  of  Kodumpavi  in  clay,  which  is 
placed  on  a  cart,  and  dragged  through  the  streets  for 
seven  to  ten  days.  On  the  last  day,  the  final  death 
ceremonies  of  the  figure  are  celebrated.  It  is  disfigured, 
especially  in  those  parts  which  are  usually  concealed. 
Vettiyans  (Paraiyan  grave-diggers),  who  have  been 
shaved,  accompany  the  figure,  and  perform  the  funeral 
ceremonies.  This  procedure  is  believed  to  put  Kodum- 
pavi to  shame,  and  to  get  her  to  induce  Sukra  to  return, 
and  stay  the  drought.  Paraiyans  are  said  *  to  wail  as 
though  they  were  at  a  funeral,  and  to  beat  drums  in 
the  funeral  time. 

•  Gazetteer  of  the  South  Arcot  district. 


The  Paraiyans  are  said  by  Mr.  Francis  *  to  have  a 
curious  share  in  the  ceremonies  in  connection  with  the 
annual  buffalo  sacrifice  at  the  Kali  shrine  at  Mangalam 
in  South  Arcot.  "  Eight  men  of  this  community  are 
chosen  from  eight  adjoining  villages,  and  one  of  them  is 
selected  as  leader.  His  wife  must  not  be  with  child  at  the 
time,  and  she  is  made  to  prove  that  she  is  above  all  suspi- 
cion by  undergoing  the  ordeal  of  thrusting  her  hand  into 
boiling  gingelly  [Sesamtcm)  oil.  On  each  of  ten  days  for 
which  the  festival  lasts,  this  Paraiyan  has  to  go  round 
some  part  of  the  boundaries  of  the  eight  villages,  and  he 
is  fed  gratis  by  the  villagers  during  this  time.  On  the 
day  of  the  sacrifice  itself,  he  marches  in  front  of  the 
priest  as  the  latter  kills  the  buffaloes.  The  Paraiyans 
of  the  eight  villages  have  the  right  to  the  carcases  of  the 
slaughtered  animals." 

The  Paraiyans  know  the  village  boundaries  better 
than  anyone  else,  and  are  very  expert  in  this  matter, 
unerringly  pointing  out  where  boundaries  should  run, 
even  when  the  Government  demarcation  stones  are 
completely  overgrown  by  prickly-pear,  or  have  been 
removed.  Mr.  Stuart  records  a  custom  which  prevails 
in  some  parts  of  making  a  Paraiyan  walk  the  boundaries 
of  a  field  with  a  pot  of  water  on  his  head,  when  there 
is  any  dispute  about  their  exact  position.  He  thinks 
that  the  only  satisfactory  explanation  of  this  is  that  the 
connection  of  the  Paraiyans  with  the  soil  is  of  much 
longer  standing  than  that  of  other  castes.  The  admitted 
proprietary  right  which  Paraiyans  have  in  the  site  known 
as  cheri-nattam,  on  which  their  huts  stand,  is  a  confirm- 
ation of  this.  These  sites  are  entered  as  such  on  the 
official  village  maps.     They  cannot  be  taken  from  the 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  South  Arcot  district. 


Paraiyans,  and  date  from  time  immemorial.  Throughout 
the  whole  of  the  Tamil  country  it  is  usual  to  find  that 
the  land  allotted  for  house-site  (nattam)  is  in  two  por- 
tions in  every  village  (Or).  One  part  is  known  by 
the  Sanskrit  name  gramam  (village),  the  inhabited  place. 
The  other  is  called  by  the  Dravidian  name  cheri 
(gathering  place). 

Sometimes  the  latter  is  called  by  the  fuller  title  para- 
cheri  (Anglice  parcheri,  parcherry),  i.e.,  the  gathering 
place  of  the  Paraiyans.  In  the  gramam  live  the  Brah- 
mans,  who  sometimes  dwell,  in  a  quarter  by  themselves 
known  as  the  agrahara,  and  also  other  Hindus.  In 
the  paracheri  live  the  Paraiyans.  The  paracheri  and 
the  gramam  are  always  separated,  at  least  by  a  road  or 
lane,  and  often  by  several  fields.  And  not  only  is  it  usual 
thus  to  find  that,  in  every  village,  the  Paraiyans  as  a 
community  possess  a  house-site,  but  there  are  many  cases 
in  which  more  than  one  cheri  is  attached  to  a  gramam. 
This  seems  to  repudiate  the  suggestion  that  at  some 
period  or  periods  the  higher  castes  relegated  the  Parai- 
yans to  these  cheris.  Indeed,  in  some  cases,  the  very 
names  of  the  cheris  suggest  what  appears  to  be  the  more 
correct  view,  viz.,  that  the  cheris  had  a  distinct  origin. 
For  instance,  the  whole  revenue  village  of  Teiyar  near 
Chingleput  consists  of  one  Sudra  gramam  and  seven 
Paraiyan  cheris,  each  with  a  name  of  its  own,  Periya- 
pilleri,  Komancheri,  etc.  In  other  cases,  e.£.,  Ideipalayam 
in  the  north  of  the  district,  and  Varadarajapuram  near 
Vandalur,  only  Paraiyan  hamlets  exist ;  there  is  no 
gramam.  In  South  Arcot  there  are  at  least  two  villages, 
Govindanallur  and  Andapet,  inhabited  only  by  Paraiyans, 
where  even  the  Maniyakkaran  (munsiff  or  village  head- 
man) is  a  Paraiyan.  Other  instances  might  be  quoted 
in  proof  of  the  same  opinion.     And,  when  the  ceremonial 


antipathy  between  Brahman  and  Paraiyan  is  examined, 
it  points  in  the  same  direction.  It  is  well  known  that 
a  Brahman  considers  himself  polluted  by  the  touch, 
presence,  or  shadow  of  a  Paraiyan,  and  will  not  allow  him 
to  enter  his  house,  or  even  the  street  in  which  he  lives,  if 
it  is  an  agrahara.  But  it  is  not  so  well  known  that  the 
Paraiyans  will  not  allow  a  Brahman  to  enter  the  cheri. 
Should  a  Brahman  venture  into  the  Paraiyan's  quarter, 
water  with  which  cow-dung  has  been  mixed  is  thrown  on 
his  head,  and  he  is  driven  out.  It  is  stated*  by  Captain 
J.,  S.  F.  Mackenzie  that  "  Brahmans  in  Mysore  consider 
that  great  luck  will  await  them  if  they  can  manage  to  pass 
through  the  Holeya  quarter  of  a  village  unmolested,  and 
that,  should  a  Brahman  attempt  to  enter  their  quarters, 
they  turn  out  in  a  body  and  slipper  him,  in  former  times 
it  is  said  to  death."  Some  Brahmans  consider  a  for- 
saken paracheri  an  auspicious  site  for  an  agrahara.  A 
very  peculiar  case  is  that  of  the  gramam  founded  for, 
and  occupied  by  the  clerks  of  the  earliest  Collectors 
(district  magistrates)  of  the  jagir  of  Karunguli  from  1795 
to  1825  A.D.  These  clerks  were  Brahmans,  and  it  was 
called  the  agraharam.  It  was  deserted  when  the  head- 
quarters of  the  Collector  were  removed  to  Conjeeveram. 
It  is  now  occupied  by  Paraiyans,  but  is  still  called  the 

The  facts,  taken  together,  seem  to  show  that  the 
Paraiyan  priests  (Valluvans),  and  therefore  the  Paraiyans 
as  a  race,  are  very  ancient,  that  ten  centuries  ago  they 
were  a  respectable  community,  and  that  many  were 
weavers.  The  privileges  they  enjoy  are  relics  of  an 
exceedingly  long  association  with  the  land.  The  insti- 
tution of  the  paracheri  points  to  original  independence. 

*  Ind.  Ant.  II,  1873. 


and  even  to  possession  of  much  of  the  land.  If  the 
account  of  the  colonisation  of  Tondeimandalam  by 
Vellalans  in  the  eighth  century  A.D.  is  historic,  then  it 
is  possible  that  at  that  time  the  Paraiyans  lost  the  land, 
and  that  their  degradation  as  a  race  began. 

The  Paraiyans  have  long  been  a  settled  race.  And, 
though  a  number  of  them  emigrate  to  Ceylon,  Mauritius, 
South  Africa,  the  West  Indies,  the  Straits  Settlements, 
and  even  to  Fiji,  the  vast  majority  live  and  die  within 
a  mile  or  two  of  the  spot  where  they  were  born.  The 
houses  in  which  they  live  are  not  temporary  erections,  or 
intended  for  use  during  certain  seasons  of  the  year  only. 
The  rudest  form  is  a  hut  made  by  tying  a  few  leaves  of 
the  palmyra  palm  on  to  a  framework  of  poles  or  bamboos. 
The  better  class  of  houses  are  a  series  of  rooms  with 
low  mud  walls  and  thatched  roof,  but  generally  without 
doors,  surrounding  a  small  courtyard,  in  which  the  family 
goats,  buffaloes,  and  fowls  have  their  homes.  The 
cooking  is  done  anywhere  where  it  is  convenient  either 
indoors  or  out,  as  there  is  no  fear  of  pollution  from  the 
glance  or  shadow  of  any  passer-by.  Very  occasionally 
the  walls  of  the  house,  especially  those  facing  the  street, 
are  whitewashed,  or  decorated  with  variegated  patterns 
or  figures  in  red  and  white.  Paraiya  women,  like  higher 
caste  women,  are  much  given  to  tracing  exceedingly 
intricate  symmetrical  designs  (kolam)  with  rice  flour  on 
the  smooth  space  or  pathway  immediately  before  the 
doors  of  their  houses,  it  is  said,  to  prevent  the  entrance 
of  evil  spirits.  Mr.  S.  P.  Rice  writes  to  me  that  the 
patterns  on  the  floor  or  threshold  are  generally  traced 
with  white  powder,  e.g.,  chalk,  as  rice  is  too  costly ;  and 
that  the  original  object  of  the  custom  was  not  to  drive 
away  evil  spirits,  but  to  provide  food  for  the  lowest 
creatures  of  creation — ants,  insects,  etc. 


Admissions  to  the  Paraiyan  caste  from  higher  castes 
sometimes  occur.  Mr.  Clayton  records  having  met  an 
Aiyangar  Brahman  who  was  working  as  a  cooly  with 
some  Paraiyan  labourers  at  Kodaikanal  on  the  Palni 
hills.  He  had  become  infatuated  with  a  Paraiya  woman, 
and  had  consequently  been  excommunicated,  and  became 
a  Paraiyan. 

In  every  Paraiya  settlement  a  small  number  of  the 
more  important  men  are  known  as  Panakkaran  (money- 
man).  The  application  of  the  term  may,  Mr.  Clayton 
suggests,  be  due  to  their  comparative  opulence,  or  may 
have  arisen  from  the  custom  of  paying  them  a  small  sum 
(panam)  for  various  services  to  the  community.  But 
Panikkar  or  Panakkar  is  usually  said  to  be  derived  from 
pani,  meaning  work.  They  form  a  committee  or  council 
to  decide  ordinary  quarrels,  and  to  amerce  the  damages 
in  cases  of  assault,  seduction,  rape,  and  adultery.  They 
have  power  to  dissolve  marriages  on  account  of  the 
wife,  or  if  the  husband  has  deserted  his  wife.  In  these 
cases  their  authority  is  really  based  on  the  public  opinion 
of  the  paracheri,  and  goes  no  further  than  that  public 
opinion  will  enforce  it.  There  is  no  headman  in  a 
Paraiya  hamlet  corresponding  to  the  munsiff  or  village 
magistrate  of  the  Hindu  village  (grama).  In  modern 
practice  the  Paraiyans  are,  for  police  purposes,  under  the 
authority  of  the  munsiff  of  the  grama,  and  there  is  a 
growing  tendency  on  their  part  to  refer  all  disputes 
and  assaults  to  the  munsiff,  or  even  directly  to  the 
police.  On  the  other  hand,  cases  of  a  more  domestic 
nature,  such  as  disputes  about  betrothals,  seduction, 
etc.,  are  still  dealt  with,  generally  acutely  and  fairly, 
by  the  village  council.  It  should  be  added  that  the 
rank  of  Panakkaran  is  hereditary,  and  is  regarded  as 


The  Paraiyans,  like  all  the  other  right-hand  castes, 
come  under  the  jurisdiction  of  the  Desayi  Chettis,  who 
have  held  a  sort  of  censorship  since  the  days  of  the 
Nawabs  of  Arcot  over  some  twenty-four  of  these  right- 
hand  castes,  chiefly  in  North  Arcot.  The  Desayi  Chetti 
has  nominal  power  to  deal  with  all  moral  offences,  and 
is  supposed  to  have  a  representative  in  every  village, 
who  reports  every  offence.  But,  though  his  authority 
is  great  in  North  Arcot,  and  the  fines  levied  there  bring 
in  an  income  of  hundreds  of  rupees  yearly,  it  is  not  so 
much  dreaded  in  other  districts.  The  punishment  usually 
inflicted  is  a  fine,  but  sometimes  a  delinquent  Paraiyan 
will  be  made  to  crawl  on  his  hands  and  knees  on  the 
ground  between  the  legs  of  a  Paraiya  woman  as  a  final 
humiliation.  The  punishment  of  excommunication,  i.e., 
cutting  off  from  fire  and  water,  is  sometimes  the  fate  of 
the  recalcitrant,  either  before  the  council  or  the  Desayi 
Chetti,  but  it  is  seldom  effective  for  more  than  a  short 
time.  Mr.  K.  Rangachari  adds  that,  in  certain  places, 
the  Desayi  Chetti  appoints  the  Panakkaran,  who  is 
subordinate  to  the  Desayi,  and  that  a  man  called  the 
Variyan  or  Shalavathi  is  sometimes  appointed  as  assist- 
ant to  the  Panakkaran.  He  also  mentions  some  other 
punishments.  The  fine  for  adultery  is  from  7  pagodas 
14  fanams  to  11  pagodas,  when  the  wronged  woman  is 
unmarried.  If  she  is  married,  the  amount  ranges  from  12 
pagodas  14  fanams  to  16  pagodas.  The  fine  is  said  to  be 
divided  between  the  woman,  her  husband,  the  members 
of  council,  and  the  Panakkarans.  Formerly  an  offender 
against  the  Paraiyan  community  was  tied  to  a  post  at 
the  beginning  of  his  trial,  and,  if  found  guilty,  was 
beaten.  He  might  escape  the  flogging  by  paying  a  fine 
of  two  fanams  per  stripe.  Sometimes  a  delinquent  is 
paraded  through  the  hamlet,  carrying  a  rubbish  basket, 


or  is  ordered  to  make  a  heap  of  rubbish  at  a  certain 
spot.  Or  a  cord  is  passed  from  one  big  toe  over  the 
bowed  neck  of  the  culprit,  and  tied  to  his  other  big  toe, 
and  then  a  stone  is  placed  on  his  bent  back.  In  some 
places,  when  an  unmarried  woman  is  convicted  of 
adultery,  she  is  publicly  given  a  new  cloth  and  a  bit  of 
straw  or  a  twig,  apparently  in  mockery.  It  is  said  that 
formerly,  if  the  chastity  of  a  bride  was  suspected,  she 
had  to  pick  some  cakes  out  of  boiling  oil.  This  she  had 
to  do  just  after  the  tali  had  been  tied  in  the  wedding 
ceremony.  Her  hair,  nails,  and  clothes  were  examined, 
to  see  that  she  had  no  charm  concealed.  After  lifting 
the  cakes  from  the  oil,  she  had  to  husk  some  rice  with 
her  bare  hand.  If  she  could  do  this,  her  virtue  was 
established.  In  the  South  Arcot  district,  according 
to  Mr.  Francis,*  the  Paraiyans  "  have  caste  headmen 
called  the  Periya  (big)  Nattan  and  the  Chinna  (little) 
Nattan  or  Tangalan  (our  man),  whose  posts  are  usually 
hereditary.  The  Tangalan  carries  out  the  sentence  of 
caste  panchayats,  administering  a  thrashing  to  the 
accused  for  example,  if  such  be  the  order  of  the  court. 
Of  the  fines  inflicted  by  these  assemblies,  a  fifth  is 
usually  handed  over  to  the  local  Mariamma  shrine, 
and  the  remaining  four-fifths  are  laid  out  in  drinks 
for  the  panchayatdars.  Until  recently,  a  part  of  the 
fine  was  in  some  cases,  in  these  parts,  paid  to  the  local 

Excommunicated  Paraiyans  are  said  to  go  to  a 
mythical  place  called  Vinnamangalam.  In  some  docu- 
ments signed  by  Paraiyans,  the  words  "  If  I  fail  to 
fulfil  the  conditions  of  our  agreement,  I  shall  go  to 
Vinnamangalam  "  are  inserted.     In  all  enquiries  by  the 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  South  Arcot  district. 


police,  the  council,  or  the  Desayi  Chetti,  the  Paraiyan 
only  tells  what  in  his  opinion  it  is  expedient  to  tell. 
But  evidence  given  after  burning  a  piece  of  camphor 
is  said  to  be  reliable. 

The  attainment  of  puberty  by  girls  is  a  subject  of 
greedy  curiosity  to  most  of  the  women  in  a  Paraiya 
village.  This  has  been  said  to  be  due  to  the  fact  that 
"  the  menstrual  fluid  is  held  in  horror,  dire  conse- 
quences being  supposed  to  result  from  not  merely  the 
contact,  but  even  the  very  sight  of  it.  Hence  the 
isolation  and  purification  of  women  during  the  menstrual 
period,  and  the  extreme  care  and  anxiety  with  which 
the  first  approach  of  i^^berty  in  a  girl  is  watched."  The 
girl  at  once  begins  lo  wear  a  covering  of  some  sort, 
even  it  be  the  most  pathetic  rag,  over  her  left  shoulder 
and  breast.  Till  this  time,  a  bit  of  cotton  cloth  round 
her  waist  has  been  considered  sufficient.  Among  the 
Tangalan  Paraiyans,  when  a  girl  attains  puberty,  she 
is  kept  apart  either  in  the  house  or  in  a  separate  hut. 
Pollution  is  supposed  to  last  eight  days.  On  the  ninth 
day,  the  girl  is  bathed,  and  seated  in  the  courtyard. 
Ten  small  lamps  of  flour  paste  (called  drishti  mavu 
vilakku),  to  avert  the  evil  eye,  are  put  on  a  sieve,  and 
waved  before  her  three  times.  Then  coloured  water 
(arati  or  alam)  and  burning  camphor  are  waved  before 
her.  Some  near  female  relatives  then  stand  behind  her, 
and  strike  her  waist  and  sides  with  puttu  (flour  cake) 
tied  in  a  cloth.  This  is  believed  to  make  her  strong. 
At  the  same  time  other  women  strike  the  ground  behind 
the  girl  with  a  rice-pestle.  Then  presents  are  given  to 
the  girl.  In  some  places  the  girl  is  beaten  within  the 
house  by  her  mother-in-law  or  paternal  aunt.  The 
latter  repeatedly  asks  the  girl  to  promise  that  her 
daughter  shall  marry  her  paternal  aunt's  son. 


In  marriages  among  the  Paraiyans,  difference  in 
religion  is  of  little  moment.  A  Christian  Paraiyan  will 
marry  a  heathen  girl,  though  it  should  be  said  that  she 
is  usually  baptised  at  or  about  the  time  of  the  marriage. 
A  Christian  girl  is  sometimes  married  to  a  heathen 
Paraiyan.  Mr.  Clayton  thinks  that  the  fact  that  certain 
Paraiyans  paint  the  namam  of  Vishnu  on  their  foreheads, 
while  others  smear  their  foreheads  with  the  ashes  of 
Siva,  prevents  marriages  between  them. 

The  bridegroom  must  be  older  than  the  bride. 
Subject  to  this  condition,  it  is  usual  for  a  youth  to 
marry  his  father's  sister's  daughter,  or  his  mother's 
brother's  daughter.  A  girl  should  be  married  to  her 
mother's  brother's  son  if  he  is  old  enough,  but  not,  as 
among  the  Konga  Vellalas  and  some  Reddis,  if  he  is  a 
child.  In  short,  Paraiyans  follow  the  usual  Tamil 
custom,  but  it  is  often  neglected. 

Marriage  contracts  are  sometimes  made  by  parents 
while  the  parties  most  concerned  are  still  infants,  often 
while  they  are  still  children  ;  in  the  majority  of  cases 
when  the  girl  attains  the  marriageable  age.  The  bride- 
groom may  be  many  years  older  than  the  bride,  especially 
when  custom,  as  noted  above,  settles  who  shall  be  his 
bride.  The  bride  has  absolutely  no  choice  in  the 
matter  ;  but,  if  the  bridegroom  is  a  man  of  some  years 
or  position,  his  preferences  are  consulted.  The  elder 
sister  should  be  given  in  marriage  before  her  younger 
sisters  are  married.  The  arrangements  are  more  or  less 
a  bargain.  Presents  of  clothes,  paltry  jewels,  rice, 
vegetables,  and  perhaps  a  few  rupees,  are  exchanged 
between  the  families  of  the  bride  and  bridegroom.  The 
household  that  seeks  the  marriage  naturally  gives  the 
larger  gifts.  The  actual  marriage  ceremony  is  very 
simple.     The  essential  part  is  the  tying  of  a  small  token 


or  ornament  (tali),  varying  in  value  from  a  few  annas  to 
four  or  five  rupees  by  a  turmeric-stained  string,  round 
the  neck  of  the  bride.  This  is  done  by  the  bridegroom 
in  the  presence  of  a  Valluvan,  who  mutters  some  kind 
of  blessing  on  the  marriage.  A  series  of  feasts,  lasting 
over  two  or  three  days,  is  given  to  all  the  relatives  of 
both  parties  by  the  parents  of  the  newly-married 
couple.  The  bride  and  bridegroom  do  not  live  together 
immediately,  even  if  the  girl  is  old  enough.  The  exact 
date  at  which  their  life  together  may  begin  is  settled 
by  the  bride's  mother.  The  occasion,  called  soppana 
muhurtham,  is  celebrated  by  another  feast  and  much 
merry-making,  not  always  seemly. 

The  following  detailed  account  of  the  marriage 
ceremonies  among  the  Tangalan  Paraiyans  was  furnished 
by  Mr.  K.  Rangachari.  The  parents  or  near  relations 
of  the  contracting  parties  meet,  and  talk  over  the  match. 
If  an  agreement  is  arrived  at,  an  adjournment  is  made  to 
the  nearest  liquor  shop,  and  a  day  fixed  for  the  formal 
exchange  of  betel  leaves,  which  is  the  sign  of  a  binding 
engagement.  A  Paraiyan,  when  he  goes  to  seek  the 
hand  of  a  girl  in  marriage,  will  not  eat  at  her  house  if 
her  family  refuse  to  consider  the  alliance,  to  which  the 
consent  of  the  girl's  maternal  uncle  is  essential.  The 
Paraiyan  is  particular  in  the  observation  of  omens,  and, 
if  a  cat  or  a  valiyan  (a  bird)  crosses  his  path  when  he 
sets  out  in  quest  of  a  bride,  he  will  give  her  up.  The 
betrothal  ceremony,  or  pariyam,  is  binding  as  long  as  the 
contracting  couple  are  alive.  They  may  live  together 
as  man  and  wife  without  performing  the  marriage  cere- 
mony, and  children  born  to  them  are  considered  as 
legitimate.  But,  when  their  offspring  marry,  the  parents 
must  first  go  through  the  marriage  rites,  and  the  children 
are  then  married  in  the  same  pandal  on  the  same  day. 


At  the  betrothal  ceremony,  the  headman,  father,  mater- 
nal uncle,  and  two  near  relations  of  the  bridegroom-elect, 
proceed  to  the  girl's  house,  where  they  are  received, 
and  sit  on  seats  or  mats.  Drink  and  plantain  fruits 
are  offered  to  them.  Some  conversation  takes  place 
between  the  headmen  of  the  two  parties,  such  as  "  Have 
you  seen  the  girl?  Have  you  seen  her  house  and  rela- 
tions ?  Are  you  disposed  to  recommend  and  arrange 
the  match  ? "  If  he  assents,  the  girl's  headman  says 
"  As  long  as  stones  and  the  Kaveri  river  exist,  so 
that  the  sky  goddess  Akasavani  and  the  earth  goddess 
Bhumadevi  may  know  it ;  so  that  the  water-pot  (used 
at  the  marriage  ceremony),  and  the  sun  and  moon  may 
know  it ;  so  that  this  assembly  may  know  it ;  I  .  .  .  . 
give  this  girl."  The  headman  of  the  bridegroom  then 
says  **  The  girl  shall  be  received  into  the  house  by 
marriage.  These  thirty-six  pieces  of  gold  are  yours, 
and  the  girl  is  mine."  He  then  hands  betel  leaves  and 
areca  nuts  to  the  other  headman,  who  returns  them. 
The  exchange  of  betel  is  carried  out  three  times.  Near 
the  headmen  is  placed  a  tray  containing  betel  nuts,  a 
rupee,  a  turmeric-dyed  cloth  in  which  a  fanam  (2 J  annas) 
is  tied,  a  cocoanut,  flowers,  and  the  bride's  money  vary- 
ing in  amount  from  seven  to  twenty  rupees.  The  fanam 
and  bride's  money  are  handed  to  the  headman  of  the 
girl,  and  the  rupee  is  divided  between  the  two  headmen. 
On  the  betrothal  day,  the  relations  of  the  girl  offer 
flowers,  cocoanuts,  etc.,  to  their  ancestors,  who  are 
supposed  to  be  without  food  or  drink.  The  Paraiyans 
believe  that  the  ancestors  will  be  ill-disposed  towards 
them,  if  they  are  not  propitiated  with  offerings  of  rice 
and  other  things.  For  the  purpose  of  worship,  the 
ancestors  are  represented  by  a  number  of  cloths  kept 
in  a  box  made    of  bamboo  or  other  material,  to  which 





the  offerings  are  made.  On  the  conclusion  of  the 
ancestor  worship,  the  two  headmen  go  to  a  liquor  shop, 
and  exchange  drinks  of  toddy.  This  exchange  is  called 
mel  sambandham  kural,  or  proclaiming  relationship. 
After  the  lapse  of  a  few  days,  the  girl's  family  is  expected 
to  pay  a  return  visit,  and  the  party  should  include  at 
least  seven  men.  Betel  is  again  exchanged,  and  the 
guests  are  fed,  or  presented  with  a  small  gift  of  money. 
When  marriage  follows  close  on  betrothal,  the  girl  is  taken 
to  the  houses  of  her  relations,  and  goes  through  the  nalugu 
ceremony,  which  consists  of  smearing  her  with  turmeric 
paste,  an  oil  bath,  and  presentation  of  betel  and  sweets. 
The  auspicious  day  and  hour  for  the  marriage  are  fixed 
by  the  Valluvan,  or  priest  of  the  Paraiyans.  The 
ceremonial  is  generally  carried  through  in  a  single  day. 
On  the  morning  of  the  wedding  day,  three  male  and  two 
married  female  relations  of  the  bridegroom  go  to  the 
potter's  house  to  fetch  the  pots,  which  have  been  already 
ordered.  The  potter's  fee  is  a  fowl,  pumpkin,  paddy, 
betel,  and  a  few  annas.  The  bride,  accompanied  by  the 
headman  and  her  relations,  goes  to  the  bridegroom's 
village,  bringing  with  her  a  number  of  articles  called  petti 
varisai  or  box  presents.  These  consist  of  a  lamp,  cup, 
brass  vessel,  ear-ornament  called  kalappu,  twenty-five 
betel  leaves  and  areca  nuts,  onions,  and  cakes,  a  lump 
of  jaggery  (crude  sugar),  grass  mat,  silver  toe-ring,  rice, 
a  bundle  of  betel  leaves  and  five  cocoanuts,  which  are 
placed  inside  a  bamboo  box.  The  next  item  in  the  pro- 
ceedings is  the  erection  of  the  milk-post,  which  is  made 
of  a  pestle  of  tamarind  or  Soymida  febrifuga  wood,  or 
a  green  bamboo.  To  the  post  leafy  twigs  of  the  mango 
or  pipal  {Ficus  religiosd)  are  tied.  In  some  places,  a 
pole  of  the  Odina  Wodier  tree  is  said  to  be  set  up,  and 
afterwards  planted  near  the  house,  to  see  if  it  will  grow. 


Near  the  marriage  dais  a  pit  is  dug,  into  which  are 
thrown  nine  kinds  of  grain,  and  milk  is  poured.     The 
milk-post  is  supported  on  a  grindstone  painted  with  tur- 
meric stripes,  washed  with  milk  and  cow's  urine,  and 
worshipped,  with  the  Valluvan  as  the  celebrant  priest. 
The  post  is  then  set  up  in  the  pit  by  three  men  and  two 
women.     A  string  with  a  bit  of  turmeric  (kankanam)  is 
tied  to  the  milk-post,  and  to  it  and  the  dais  boiled  rice 
is  offered.     Kankanams  are  also  tied  round  the  wrists 
of  the  bride  and  bridegroom.     The  bridegroom's  party 
go  to  the  temple  or  house  where  the  bride  is  awaiting 
them,  bringing  with  them  a  brass  lamp,  vessel  and  cup, 
castor  and  gingelly  oil,  combs,  confectionery,  turmeric, 
and  betel  leaves.     The  procession  is  headed  by  Paraiyans 
beating  tom-toms,   and  blowing   on  trumpets.      When 
their  destination  is  reached,  all  take  their  seats  on  mats, 
and  the  various  articles  which  they  have  brought  are 
handed  over  to  the  headman,  who  returns  them.     The 
bride  is  then  taken  in  procession  to  the  marriage  house, 
which  she  is  the  first  to  enter.     She  is  then  told  to  touch 
with  her  right  hand  some  paddy,  salt,  and  rice,  placed  in 
three  pots  inside  the  house.     Touching  them  with  the  left 
hand  would  be  an  evil  omen,  and  every  mishap  which 
might  occur  in  the  family  would  be  traced  to  the  new 
daughter-in-law.      The  bride  and  bridegroom  next  go 
through  the  nalugu  ceremony,  and  some  of  the  relations 
proceed  with  the  ceremony  of  bringing  sand  (manal  vari 
sadangu).     A  cousin  of  the  bridegroom  and  his  wife  take 
three  pots  called  sal  karagam  and  kuresal,  and  repair  to 
a  river,  tank  (pond)  or  well,  accompanied  by  a  few  men 
and  women.     The  pots  are  set  on  the  ground,  and  close 
to  them  are  placed  a  lamp,  and  a  leaf  with  cakes,  betel 
leaves  and  nuts  set  on  it.     Puja  (worship)  is  made  to 
the  pots  by  burning  camphor  and  breaking  cocoanuts. 


The  Vettiyan  then  says  "  The  sun,  the  moon,  the  pots, 
and  the  owner  of  the  girl  have  come  to  the  pandal.  So 
make  haste  and  fill  the  pot  with  water."  The  woman 
dips  a  small  pot  in  water,  and,  after  putting  some  sand 
or  mud  into  a  big  pot,  pours  the  water  therein.  The  pots 
are  then  again  worshipped.  After  the  performance  of 
the  nalugu,  the  bridal  couple  go  through  a  ceremony  for 
removing  the  evil  eye,  called  "sige  kazhippu."  A  leaf 
oS.  Ficus  religiosa,  with  its  tail  downwards,  is  held  over 
their  foreheads,  and  all  the  close  relations  pour  water 
over  it,  so  that  it  trickles  over  their  faces  ;  or  seven  cakes 
are  placed  by  each  of  the  relations  on  the  head,  shoulders, 
knees,  feet,  and  other  parts  of  the  body  of  the  bridegroom. 
The  cakes  are  subsequently  given  to  a  washerman.  The 
parents  of  the  bridal  couple,  accompanied  by  some  of 
their  relations,  next  proceed  to  an  open  field,  taking  with 
them  the  cloths,  tali,  jewels,  and  other  things  which  have 
been  purchased  for  the  wedding.  A  cloth  is  laid  on  the 
ground,  and  on  it  seven  leaves  are  placed,  and  cooked 
rice,  vegetables,  etc.,  heaped  up  thereon.  Puja  is  done, 
and  a  goat  is  sacrificed  to  the  ancestors  (Tangalanmar). 
By  some  the  offerings  are  made  to  the  village  goddess 
Pidari,  instead  of  to  the  ancestors.  Meanwhile  the  bride- 
groom has  been  taken  in  procession  round  the  village 
on  horseback,  and  the  headmen  have  been  exchanging 
betel  in  the  pandal.  On  the  bridegroom's  return,  he  and 
the  bride  seat  themselves  on  planks  placed  on  the  dais, 
and  are  garlanded  by  their  maternal  uncle  with  wreaths  of 
Nerium  odorum  flowers.  The  maternal  uncle  of  the  bride 
presents  her  with  a  ring.  In  some  places,  the  bride  is 
carried  to  the  dais  on  the  shoulders  or  in  the  arms  of  the 
maternal  uncle.  While  the  couple  are  seated  on  the  dais 
the  Valluvan  priest  lights  the  sacred  fire  (homam),  and, 
repeating  some  words  in  corrupt  Sanskrit,  pours  gingelly 
V1-7  B 


oil  into  the  fire.     He  then   does  puja  to  the  tali,  and 
passes  it  round,  to  be  touched  and   blessed  by   those 
assembled.     The  bridegroom,   taking  up  the  tali,  shows 
it  through  a  hole  in  the  pandal  to  the  sky  or  sun,  and,  on 
receipt  of  permission  from  those  present,  ties  it  round  the 
neck  of  the  bride.     Thin  plates  of  gold  or  silver,  called 
pattam,  are  then  tied  on  the  foreheads  of  the  contracting 
couple,    first    by   the  mother-in-law    and    sister-in-law. 
With  Brahman  and  non- Brahman  castes   it  is  customary 
for  the  bride  and  bridegroom  to  fast  until  the  tali  has 
been  tied.     With  Paraiyans,    on  the  contrary,  the  rite  is 
performed  after  a  good  meal.     Towards  the  close  of  the 
marriage  day,   fruit,   flowers,  and  betel  are  placed  on  a 
tray  before  the  couple,  and  all  the  kankanams,  seven  in 
number,  are  removed,  and  put  on  the  tray.     After  burn- 
ing camphor,  the  bridegroom  hands  the  tray  to  his  wife, 
and  it  is  exchanged  between  them  three  times.     It  is 
then  given  to  the  washerman.     The  proceedings  termi- 
nate by  the  two  going  with  linked  hands  three  times 
round  the   pandal.     On    the  following  day,  the   bride's 
relatives  purchase  some  good  curds,  a  number  of  plantains, 
sugar  and  pepper,  which  are  mixed  together.     All  as- 
semble at  the  pandal,  and  some  of  the  mixture   is  given 
to  the  headman,  the  newly  married  couple,  and  all  who 
are  present.     All  the  articles  which  constitute  the  bride's 
dowry  are  then  placed   in  the  pandal,  and  examined  by 
the  headman.     If  they  are  found  to  be  correct,  he  pro- 
claims the  union  of  the  couple,  and  more  of  the  mixture 
is  doled  out.     This  ceremony  is  known  as  sambandham 
kural  or   sambandham  piriththal  (proclaiming  relation- 
ship).    Two    or    three    days    after    the    marriage,    the 
bridegroom  goes  to  the  house  of  the  bride,  and  remains 
there  for    three  days.     He    is  stopped  at  the  entrance 
by  his  brother-in-law,  who  washes  his  feet,  puts  rings  on 


the  second  toe,  and  keeps  on  pinching  his  feet  until  he 
has  extracted  a  promise  that  the  bridegroom  will  give 
his  daughter,  if  one  is  born  to  him,  in  marriage  to  the 
son  of  his  brother-in-law.  The  ring  is  put  on  the  foot 
of  the  bride  by  her  maternal  uncle  at  the  time  of  the 
marriage  ceremony,  after  the  wrist  threads  have  been 
removed.  In  some  places  it  is  done  by  the  mother-in- 
law  or  sister-in-law,  before  the  tali  is  tied,  behind  a  screen. 

Polygamy  is  not  common  among  the  Paraiyans,  but 
Mr.  Clayton  has  known  a  few  instances  in  which  a 
Paraiyan  had  two  regularly  married  wives,  each  wearing 
a  tali.  But  it  is  very  common  to  find  that  a  Paraiyan 
has,  in  addition  to  his  formally  married  wife,  another 
woman  who  occupies  a  recognised  position  in  his  house- 
hold. The  first  wears  the  tali.  The  other  woman  does 
not,  but  is  called  the  second  wife.  She  cannot  be  dis- 
missed without  the  sanction  of  the  paracheri  council. 
The  man  who  maintains  her  is  called  her  husband,  and 
her  children  are  recognised  as  part  of  his  family.  Mr. 
Clayton  believes  that  a  second  wife  is  usually  taken  only 
when  the  more  formally  married  wife  has  no  children,  or 
when  an  additional  worker  is  wanted  in  the  house,  or  to 
help  in  the  daily  work.  Thus  a  horsekeeper  will  often 
have  two  wives,  one  to  prepare  his  meals  and  boil  the 
gram  for  the  horse,  the  other  to  go  out  day  by  day  to 
collect  grass  for  the  horse.  The  Tamil  proverb  "  The 
experience  of  a  man  with  two  wives  is  anguish  "  applies 
to  all  these  double  unions.  There  are  constant  quarrels 
between  the  two  women,  and  the  man  is  generally 
involved,  often  to  his  own  great  inconvenience.  It  is 
quite  common  for  a  Paraiyan  to  marry  his  deceased  wife's 
sister,  if  she  is  not  already  married. 

A  Paraiya  woman  usually  goes  to  her  mother's  house 
a  month  or  two  before  she  expects  the  birth  of  her  first 


child,  which  is  born  there.  Sometimes  a  medicine 
woman  (maruttuvacchi),  who  possesses  or  professes  some 
knowledge  of  drugs  and  midwifery,  is  called  in,  if  the 
case  is  a  bad  one.  Generally  her  barbarous  treatment  is 
but  additional  torture  to  the  patient.  Immediately  after 
the  birth  of  the  child,  the  mother  drinks  a  decoction  called 
kashayam,  in  which  there  is  much  ginger.  Hence  the 
Tamil  proverb  "  Is  there  any  decoction  without  ginger 
in  it  ? "  About  a  week  after  the  birth,  the  mother,  as  a 
purificatory  ceremony,  is  rubbed  with  oil  and  bathed. 

Among  Sudras  there  is  a  family  ceremony,  to  which 
the  Sanskrit  name  Simanta  has  been  assigned,  though  it 
is  not  the  true  Simanta  observed  by  Brahmans.  It 
occurs  only  in  connection  with  a  first  pregnancy.  The 
expectant  mother  stands  bending  over  a  rice  mortar, 
and  water  or  human  milk  is  poured  on  her  back  by  her 
husband's  elder  or  younger  sister.  Money  is  also  given 
to  buy  jewels  for  the  expected  child.  The  ceremony  is 
of  no  interest  to  anyone  outside  the  family.  Hence  the 
proverb  "  Come,  ye  villagers,  and  pour  water  on  this 
woman's  back."  This  is  used  when  outsiders  are  called  in 
to  do  for  a  member  of  a  family  what  the  relatives  ought  to 
do.  This  ceremony  is  sometimes  observed  by  Paraiyans. 
Among  Brahmans  it  is  believed  to  affect  the  sex  of 
the  child.  It  should  be  added  that  it  is  firmly  believed 
that,  if  a  woman  dies  during  pregnancy  or  in  childbed, 
her  spirit  becomes  an  exceedingly  malignant  ghost,  and 
haunts  the  precincts  of  the  village  where  she  dies. 

A  widow  does  not  wear  the  tali,  which  is  removed  at 
a  gathering  of  relatives  some  days  after  her  husband's 
death.  "  The  removal  of  the  tali  of  a  widow,"  Mr. 
Francis  writes,*  "  is  effected  in  a  curious  manner.     On 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  South  Arcot  district. 


the  sixteenth  day  after  the  husband's  death,  another 
woman  stands  behind  the  widow,  who  stoops  forward, 
and  unties  the  tali  in  such  a  way  that  it  falls  into  a 
vessel  of  milk  placed  to  receive  it.  Adoption  ceremonies 
are  also  odd.  The  adoptee's  feet  are  washed  in  turmeric 
water  by  the  adopter,  who  then  drinks  a  little  of  the 
liquid.  Adoption  is  accordingly  known  as  manjanir 
kudikkiradu,  or  the  drinking  of  turmeric  water,  and  the 
adopted  son  as  the  manjanir  pillai,  or  turmeric  water 
boy."  Paraiya  women  do  not  wear  any  distinctive  dress 
when  they  are  widows,  and  do  not  shave  their  heads. 
But  they  cease  to  paint  the  vermilion  mark  (kunkumam) 
on  their  foreheads,  which  married  women  who  are  living 
with  their  husbands  always  wear,  except  at  times  when 
they  are  considered  ceremonially  unclean.  The  widow 
of  a  Paraiyan,  if  not  too  old  to  bear  children,  generally 
lives  with  another  man  as  his  wife.  Sometimes  she  is 
ceremonially  married  to  him,  and  then  wears  the  tali. 
A  widow  practically  chooses  her  own  second  husband, 
and  is  not  restricted  to  any  particular  relative,  such  as 
her  husband's  elder  or  younger  brother.  The  practice 
of  the  Levirate,  by  which  the  younger  brother  takes  the 
widow  of  the  elder,  is  non-existent  as  a  custom  among 
Paraiyas,  though  instances  of  such  unions  may  be  found. 
Indeed  the  popular  opinion  of  the  Tamil  caste  credits 
the  Paraiyan  with  little  regard  for  any  of  the  restric- 
tions of  consanguinity,  either  prohibitive  or  permissive. 
"The  palmyra  palm  has  no  shadow:  the  Paraiyan  has 
no  regard  for  seemliness  "  is  a  common  Tamil  proverb. 

It  is  stated,  in  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1891, 
that  "the  Paraiyans  have  been  but  little  affected  by 
Brahmanical  doctrines  and  customs,  though  in  respect  to 
ceremonies  they  have  not  escaped  their  influence.  Parai- 
yans are  nominally  Saivites,  but  in  reality  they  are  demon 


worshippers."  The  Homakulam  tank  in  the  South 
Arcot  district  is  reputed  to  be  the  place  where  Nanda, 
the  Paraiyan  saint,  bathed  before  he  performed  sacrifice 
preparatory  to  his  transfiguration  to  Brahmanhood,* 
Brahman  influence  has  scarcely  affected  the  Paraiyan 
at  all,  even  in  ceremonial.  No  Paraiyan  may  enter  any 
Vaishnava  or  Saiva  temple  even  of  the  humblest  sort, 
though  of  course  his  offerings  of  money  are  accepted, 
if  presented  by  the  hands  of  some  friendly  Sudra,  even 
in  such  exclusive  shrines  as  that  of  Sri  Vira  Raghava 
Swami  at  Tiruvallur.  It  is  true  that  Paraiyans  are  often 
termed  Saivites,  but  there  are  many  nominal  Vaishnavas 
among  them,  who  regularly  wear  the  namam  of  Vishnu  on 
their  foreheads.  The  truth  is  that  the  feminine  deities, 
commonly  called  devata,  have  been  identified  by  Hindus 
with  the  feminine  energy  of  Siva,  and  thus  the  Paraiyans 
who  worship  them  have  received  the  sectarian  epithet. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  wearing  of  the  namam  of  Vishnu, 
or  the  smearing  of  the  ashes  of  Siva,  is  of  no  meaning  to 
a  Paraiyan.  They  are  neither  Saivites  nor  Vaishnavites. 
Like  all  other  Dravidians,  the  Paraiyans  acknowl- 
edge the  existence  of  a  supreme,  omnipresent,  personal 
spiritual  Being,  the  source  of  all,  whom  they  call  Kadavul 
(He  who  is).  Kadavul  possesses  no  temples,  and  is 
not  worshipped,  but  he  is  the  highest  conception  of 
Paraiya  thought.  Paraiyans  worship  at  least  three 
classes  of  godlings  or  devata,  generally  called  the 
mothers  (amma).  Sometimes  they  are  worshipped  as 
the  virgins  (Kanniyamma)  or  the  seven  virgins.  These 
mothers  may  be  worshipped  collectively  in  a  group. 
They  are  then  symbolised  by  seven  stones  or  bricks, 
perhaps  within  a  little  enclosure,  or  on  a  little  platform 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  South  Arcot  district. 






in  the  Paraiya  hamlet,  or  under  a  margosa  {Melia 
Azadirachtd)  tree,  or  sheltered  by  a  wattle  hut,  or  even 
by  a  small  brick  temple.  This  temple  is  universally 
known  as  the  Amman  Koil.  More  usually,  one  parti- 
cular mother  is  worshipped  at  the  Paraiya  shrine.  She 
is  then  called  the  grama  devata,  or  village  goddess,  of 
the  particular  hamlet.  The  names  of  these  goddesses  are 
legion.  Each  village  claims  that  its  own  mother  is  not 
the  same  as  that  of  the  next  village,  but  all  are  supposed 
to  be  sisters.  Each  is  supposed  to  be  the  guardian  of 
the  boundaries  of  the  cheri  or  gramam  where  her  temple 
lies,  sometimes  of  both  gramam  and  cheri.  She  is 
believed  to  protect  its  inhabitants  and  its  livestock  from 
disease,  disaster  and  famine,  to  promote  the  fecundity  of 
cattle  and  goats,  and  to  give  children.  In  a  word,  she 
is  called  the  benefactress  of  the  place,  and  of  all  in  it 
who  worship  her.  The  following  are  a  few  of  the  names 
of  these  village  tutelary  deities  : — 

Ellamma,  goddess  of  the  boundary,  worshipped  by 
Tamil  and  Telugu  Paraiyans. 

Mungilamma,  bamboo  goddess. 

Padeiyattal  or  Padeiyacchi. 

Parrapotamma,  a  Telugu  goddess  supposed  to  cure 
cattle  diseases. 

Pidariyamma,  sometimes  called  Ellei  Pidari. 
The  symbol  of  the  goddess  may  be  a  conical  stone, 
or  a  carved  idol.     Occasionally  a  rude  figure  of  the  bull 
Nandi,  and  an  iron  trident  mark  the  shrine.     A  lamp  is 
often  lighted  before  it  at  night. 

The  ceremonial  of  worship  of  all  classes  of  devata  is 
very  simple.  The  worshipper  prostrates  himself  before 
the  symbol  of  the  deity,  whether  one  stone,  seven  stones, 
or  an  image.  He  anoints  it  with  oil,  smears  it  with 
saffron,  daubs  it  with  vermilion,  garlands  it  with  flowers 


(Nerium  odorum  by  preference),  burns  a  bit  of  camphor, 
and  circumambulates  the  shrine,  keeping  his  right  side 
towards  it.  On  special  occasions  he  breaks  cocoanuts, 
kills  fowls,  goats  or  sheep,  of  which  the  two  last  must  be 
killed  at  one  blow,  pours  out  their  blood,  perhaps  offers  a 
little  money,  and  goes  his  way,  satisfied  that  he  has  done 
his  best  to  propitiate  the  devata  whom  he  has  honoured. 

Special  shrines  attain  very  great  fame.  Thus  the 
goddess  Bavaniyammal  of  Periyapalayam,  some  sixteen 
miles  from  Madras,  is  well  known,  and  crowds  come  to 
her  annual  festival.  Paraiyans,  Pallis,  and  Chakkilians 
form  the  majority  of  the  worshippers,  but  of  late  years 
Sudras  and  even  Brahmans  are  to  be  found  at  her  shrine. 
The  homage  rendered  to  her  is  twofold.  Her  worshippers 
sacrifice  some  thousands  of  sheep  on  the  river  bank 
outside  her  temple,  and,  entirely  divesting  themselves  of 
their  garments,  and  covering  themselves  with  bunches  of 
margosa  leaves,  go  round  the  temple.  Except  on  the 
five  Sundays,  usually  in  July  and  August,  on  which  the 
festival  is  held,  the  shrine  is  forsaken,  and  the  goddess 
is  said  to  be  a  vegetarian ;  but  on  the  five  festival 
Sundays  she  is  said  to  be  as  greedy  for  flesh  as  a  leather- 
dresser's  (Chakkiliyan)  wife. 

Two  goddesses  hold  a  position  distinct  from  the 
mothers  as  a  group,  or  as  tutelary  goddesses.  These  are 
Gangammal  and  Mariyattal,  and  their  peculiarity  is  that 
they  are  itinerant  deities.  Gangammal  is  often  described 
as  the  goddess  of  cholera,  and  Mariyattal,  as  the  god- 
dess of  small-pox,  though  both  diseases  are  frequently 
ascribed  to  the  latter.  Mariyattal  is  worshipped  under 
the  names  of  Poleramma  and  Ammavaru  by  Telugus. 
For  instance,  near  Arcotkuppam  in  the  North  Arcot 
district,  a  festival  is  held  in  honour  of  Gangammal  in  the 
Tamil  month  Vaikasi  (May-June),  in  which  Sudras  join. 


The  main  feature  of  the  festival  is  the  boiling  of  new 
rice  as  at  Pongal.  Men  also  put  on  women's  clothes, 
and  perform  grotesque  dances.  In  the  same  way,  in 
the  ten  days'  festival  in  honour  of  Mariyattal  held  at 
Uttaramallur  during  the  Tamil  month  Avani  (August), 
the  goddess  is  carried  about  by  washermen  (Vannan), 
who  perform  a  kind  of  pantomime  (vilas)  in  her  honour. 
There  is  a  curious  belief  that  these  goddesses  (or 
Gangammal,  if  they  are  distinguished)  must  travel  along 
roads  and  paths,  and  cannot  go  across  country,  and 
that  they  cannot  pass  over  the  leaves  of  the  margosa 
or  the  stems  of  the  plant  called  in  Tamil  perandei  ( Vilis 
quadrangularis).  Consequently,  when  cholera  is  about, 
and  the  goddess  is  supposed  to  be  travelling  from  village 
to  village  seeking  victims,  branches  of  margosa  and  long 
strings  of  perandei  are  placed  on  all  the  paths  leading 
into  the  gramam  or  cheri.  Sometimes,  also,  leaves  of  the 
margosa  are  strung  together,  and  hung  across  the  village 
street.     These  are  called  toranam. 

Besides  the  deities  already  referred  to,  there  are  a 
number  of  ghosts,  ghouls,  and  goblins  (pey  or  pisasu), 
whom  Paraiyans  propitiate.  Mathureiviran  and  Vira- 
badran  are,  for  example,  two  well-known  demons. 

Among  Tamil  Paraiyans  there  are  families  in  almost 
every  village,  who  hold  a  kind  of  sacerdotal  rank  in 
the  esteem  of  their  fellows.  They  are  called  Valluvans, 
Valluva  Pandarams,  or  Valluva  Paraiyans.  Their  posi- 
tion and  authority  depend  largely  on  their  own  astuteness. 
Sometimes  they  are  respected  even  by  Brahmans  for 
their  powers  as  exorcists.  It  is  often  impossible  to  see 
any  difference  between  the  Valluvans  and  the  ordinary 
Paraiyans,  except  that  their  houses  are  usually  a  little 
apart  from  other  houses  in  the  cheri.  They  take  a 
leading  part  in   local    Paraiya   festivals.     At  marriages 


they  pronounce  the  blessing  when  the  tali  is  tied  round 
the  bride's  neck. 

In  cases  of  supposed  possession  by  demons,  or  by 
the  mothers,  the  Valluvan  is  consulted  as  to  the  meaning 
of  the  portent,  and  takes  part  in  driving  the  spirit  out  of 
the  victim,  sometimes  using  violence  and  blows  to  com- 
pel the  spirit  to  deliver  its  message  and  be  gone.  The 
Census  Report,  1901,  states  that  Valluvans  do  not  eat 
or  intermarry  with  other  sections  of  the  Paraiyans.  Mr. 
Clayton  is  unable  to  confirm  this,  and  is  inclined  to  doubt 
whether  it  is  generally  true. 

The  dead  are  buried  as  a  rule,  but  sometimes  the 
corpses  are  burnt.  A  portion  of  the  village  waste  land 
is  allotted  for  the  purpose.  Only  Paraiyans  are  buried 
in  it.  The  funeral  rites  are  very  simple.  The  corpse  is 
carried  on  a  temporary  litter  of  palm  leaf  mats  and 
bamboos,  wrapped  in  a  cotton  cloth,  which  is  a  new  one 
if  it  can  be  afforded,  and  interred  or  burnt.  About  the 
third  or  fifth  day  after  death,  the  pal  sadangu,  or  milk 
ceremony,  should  take  place,  when  some  milk  is  poured 
out  by  the  next-of-kin  as  an  offering  to  the  spirit  of  the 
deceased.  This  spirit  is  then  supposed  to  assume  a 
sort  of  corporeity,  and  to  depart  to  the  place  of  respite 
till  fate  decrees  that  it  be  re-born.  This  ceremony  is 
accompanied  by  a  family  feast.  On  the  fifteenth  day 
after  death,  another  family  gathering  is  held,  and  food  is 
offered  to  the  spirit  of  the  dead  person.  This  ceremony 
is  called  Karumantaram,  or  expiatory  ceremony.  Occa- 
sionally, for  some  months  after  the  death,  a  few  flowers 
are  placed  on  the  grave,  and  a  cocoanut  is  broken  over 
it ;  and  some  attempt  is  even  made  to  recognise  the 
anniversary  of  the  date.  But  there  is  no  regular  custom 
and  it  is  probably  an  imitation  of  Brahmanical  usages. 
The  ordinary  Paraiyan's  conception  of  life  after  death  is 


merely  a  vague  belief  that  the  departed  soul  continues 
its  existence  somewhere.  He  has  no  ordered  eschatol- 
ogy.  If  a  first-born  male  child  dies,  it  is  buried  close 
to  or  even  within  the  house,  so  that  its  corpse  may  not 
be  carried  off  by  a  witch  or  sorcerer,  to  be  used  in  magic 
rites,  as  the  body  of  a  first-born  child  is  supposed  to 
possess  special  virtues.  It  is  noted  by  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  * 
that  "  the  Tangalans  profess  to  have  once  been  a  very 
respectable  class,  and  wear  the  sacred  thread  at  weddings 
and  funerals,  while  the  other  divisions  never  assume  it." 
The  following  note  on  the  death  ceremonies  of  the 
Paraiyans  at  Coimbatore  was  supplied  by  Mr.  V.  Govin- 
dan.  If  the  deceased  was  a  married  man,  the  corpse 
is  placed  in  a  sitting  posture  in  a  booth  made  of  twigs 
of  margosa  and  milk-hedge  {^Euphorbia  Tirucalli),  and 
supported  behind  by  a  mortar.  The  widow  puts  on  all 
her  ornaments,  and  decorates  her  hair  with  flowers.  She 
seats  herself  on  the  left  side  of  the  corpse,  in  the  hands 
of  which  some  paddy  (unhusked  rice)  or  salt  is  placed. 
Taking  hold  of  its  hands,  some  one  pours  the  contents 
thereof  into  the  hands  of  the  widow,  who  replaces  them 
in  those  of  the  corpse.  This  is  done  thrice,  and  the 
widow  then  ties  the  rice  in  her  cloth.  On  the  way  to 
the  burial  ground  (sudukadu),  the  son  carries  a  new  pot, 
the  barber  a  pot  of  cooked  rice  and  brinjal  {Solanum 
Melongend)  fruits  and  other  things  required  for  doing 
puja.  The  Paraiyan  in  charge  of  the  burial  ground 
carries  a  fire-brand.  The  mats  and  other  articles 
used  by  the  deceased,  and  the  materials  of  which  the 
booth  was  made,  are  carried  in  front  by  the  washerman, 
who  deposits  them  at  a  spot  between  the  house  of  the 
deceased  and  the  burial  ground  called  the  idukadu,  which 

♦  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 


is  made  to  represent  the  shrine  of  Arichandra.  Ari- 
chandra  was  a  king,  who  became  a  slave  of  the  Paraiyans, 
and  is  in  charge  of  the  burial  ground.  At  the  idukadu 
the  corpse  is  placed  on  the  ground,  and  the  son,  going 
thrice  round  it,  breaks  the  pot  of  rice  near  its  head. 
The  barber  makes  a  mark  at  the  four  corners  of  the 
bier,  and  the  son  places  a  quarter  anna  on  three  of  the 
marks,  and  some  cowdung  on  the  mark  at  the  north-east 
corner.  The  widow  seats  herself  at  the  feet  of  the 
corpse,  and  another  widowed  woman  breaks  her  tali 
string,  and  throws  it  on  the  corpse.  Arrived  at  the 
grave,  the  gurukal  (priest)  descends  into  it,  does  puja  and 
applies  vibhuti  (sacred  ashes)  to  its  sides.  The  body- 
is  lowered  into  it,  and  half  a  yard  of  cloth  from  the 
winding-sheet  is  given  to  the  Paraiyan,  and  a  quarter  of 
a  yard  to  an  Andi  (religious  mendicant).  The  grave  is 
filled  in  up  to  the  neck  of  the  corpse,  and  bael  {^gle 
Marmelos)  leaves,  salt,  and  vibhuti  are  placed  on  its 
head  by  the  gurukal.  The  grave  is  then  filled  in,  and  a 
stone  and  thorny  branch  placed  at  the  head  end.  As 
the  son  goes,  carrying  the  water-pot,  three  times  round 
the  grave,  the  barber  makes  a  hole  in  the  pot,  which  is 
thrown  on  the  stone.  The  son  and  other  relations  bathe 
and  return  to  the  house,  where  a  vessel  containing  milk 
is  set  on  a  mortar,  and  another  containing  water  placed 
at  the  door.  They  dip  twigs  of  the  pipal  {Ficus  religi- 
osa)  into  the  milk,  and  throw  them  on  the  roof.  They 
also  worship  a  lighted  lamp.  On  the  thii?d  day,  cooked 
rice,  and  other  food  for  which  the  deceased  had  a  special 
liking,  are  taken  to  the  grave,  and  placed  on  plantain 
leaves.  Puja  is  done,  and  the  crows  are  attracted  to  the 
spot.  If  they  do  not  turn  up,  the  gurukal  prays,  and 
throws  up  water  three  times.  On  the  seventeenth  day, 
the  son  and  others,  accompanied  by  the  gurukal,  carry 


a  new  brick  and  articles  required  for  puja  to  the  river. 
The  brick  is  placed  under  water,  and  the  son  bathes. 
The  articles  for  puja  are  spread  on  a  plantain  leaf,  before 
which  the  son  places  the  brick.  Puja  is  done  to  it,  and 
a  piece  of  new  cloth  tied  on  it.  It  is  then  again  carried 
to  the  water,  and  immersed  therein.  The  ceremonial 
concludes  with  the  lighting  of  the  sacred  fire  (homam). 

The  death  ceremonies  of  the  Paraiyan,  as  carried 
out  in  the  Chingleput  district,  are  thus  described  by  Mr. 
K.  Rangachari.  The  corpse  is  washed,  dressed,  and 
carried  on  a  bier  to  the  burning  or  burial  ground.  Just 
before  it  is  placed  on  the  bier,  all  the  relations,  who  are 
under  pollution,  go  round  it  three  times,  carrying  an  iron 
measure  round  which  straw  has  been  wrapped,  and  con- 
taining a  light.  On  the  way  to  the  burial  ground,  the  son 
or  grandson  scatters  paddy,  which  has  been  fried  by  the 
agnates.  A  pot  of  fire  is  carried  by  the  Vettiyan.  At 
a  certain  spot  the  bier  is  placed  on  the  ground,  and  the 
son  goes  round  it,  carrying  a  pot  of  cooked  rice,  which 
he  breaks  near  the  head  of  the  corpse.  This  rice  should 
not  be  touched  by  man  or  beast,  and  it  is  generally  buried. 
When  the  corpse  has  been  placed  on  the  pyre,  or  laid  in 
the  grave,  rice  is  thrown  over  it  by  the  relations.  The 
son,  carrying  a  pot  of  water,  goes  thrice  round  it,  and 
asks  those  assembled  if  he  may  finish  the  ceremony.  On 
receiving  their  assent,  he  again  goes  three  times  round 
the  corpse,  and,  making  three  holes  in  the  pot,  throws  it 
down,  and  goes  home  without  looking  back.  If  the  dead 
person  is  unmarried,  a  mock  marriage  ceremony,  called 
kanni  kaziththal  (removing  bachelorhood),  is  performed 
before  the  corpse  is  laid  on  the  bier.  A  garland  of  arka 
{Calotropis gigantea)  flowers  and  leaves  is  placed  round 
its  neck,  and  balls  of  mud  from  a  gutter  are  laid  on  the 
head,    knees,   and  other   parts  of  the  body.     In    some 


places  a  variant  of  the  ceremony  consists  in  the  erection 
of  a  mimic  marriage  booth  which  is  covered  with  leaves  of 
the  arka  plant,  flowers  of  which  are  placed  round  the  neck 
as  a  garland.  On  the  third  day  after  death,  cooked  rice, 
milk,  fruits,  etc.,  are  offered  to  the  soul  of  the  departed  on 
two  leaves  placed  one  near  the  head,  the  other  near  the  feet 
of  the  corpse.  Of  these,  the  former  is  taken  by  men,  and 
the  latter  by  women,  and  eaten.  The  karmanthiram,  or 
final  ceremony,  takes  place  on  the  twelfth  or  sixteenth 
day.  All  concerned  in  it  proceed  to  a  tank  with  cooked 
rice,  cakes,  etc.  A  figure  of  Ganesa  (Pillayar)  is  made 
with  mud,  and  five  kalasam  (vessels)  are  placed  near  it. 
The  various  articles  which  have  been  brought  are  set  out 
in  front  of  it.  Two  bricks,  on  which  the  figures  of  a  man 
and  woman  are  drawn,  are  given  to  the  son,  who  washes 
them,  and  does  puja  to  them  after  an  effigy  has  been 
made  at  the  waterside  by  a  washerman.  He  then  says  "I 
gave  calves  and  money.  Enter  Kailasam  (the  abode  of 
Siva).  Find  your  way  to  paralokam  (the  other  world). 
I  gave  you  milk  and  fruit.  Go  to  the  world  of  the  dead. 
I  gave  gingelly  i^Sesamum)  and  milk.  Enter  yamalokam 
(abode  of  the  god  of  death).  Eleven  descendants  on  the 
mother's  side  and  ten  on  the  father's,  twenty-one  in  all, 
may  they  all  enter  heaven."  He  then  puts  the  bricks 
into  the  water.  On  their  return  home,  the  sons  of  the 
deceased  are  presented  with  new  clothes. 

It  is  recorded,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the  Tanjore  dis- 
trict, that,  when  a  man  dies,  camphor  is  not  burnt  in  the 
house,  but  at  the  junction  of  three  lanes.  Some  Parai- 
yans,  on  the  occurrence  of  a  death  in  a  family,  put  a  pot 
filled  with  dung  or  water,  a  broomstick  and  a  fire-brand 
at  some  place  where  three  roads  meet,  or  in  front  of 
the  house,  in  order  to  prevent  the  ghost  from  returning. 
An   impression   of  the   dead    man's    palm    is    taken    in 


I— I 




cow-dung,  and  stuck  on  the  wall.  In  some  places,  e.g., 
at  Tirutturaippundi,  the  Paraiyans  observe  a  ceremony 
rather  like  that  observed  by  Valaiyans  and  Karaiyans  on 
the  heir's  return  from  the  burning-ground  on  the  second 
day.  Three  rice -pounders  and  a  chembu  (vessel)  of 
water  are  placed  outside  the  door,  and  the  heir  sits  on 
these,  chews  a  piece  of  fish,  spits  thrice,  and  then  goes 
and  worships  a  light  burning  in  the  house. 

Tattooing  is  practiced  on  women  and  children  of 
both  sexes,  but  not  on  grown  men.  With  children  it 
is  confined  to  a  simple  line  drawn  down  the  forehead. 
Among  Paraiyans  who  have  become  Roman  Catholics, 
the  device  is  sometimes  a  cross.  Women,  like  those  of 
other  Tamil  castes,  frequently  have  their  arms  elabo- 
rately tattooed,  and  sometimes  have  a  small  pattern 
between  the  breasts.  A  legend  runs  to  the  effect  that, 
many  years  ago,  a  Paraiyan  woman  wished  her  upper 
arms  and  chest  to  be  tattooed  in  the  form  of  a  bodice. 
The  operation  was  successfully  carried  out  till  the 
region  of  the  heart  was  reached,  and  then  a  vulnerable 
part  was  punctured  by  the  needles,  with  the  result  that 
the  woman  died.  Whence  has  arisen  a  superstitious 
objection  to  tattooing  of  the  breasts. 

Sometimes  an  arei-mudi,  shaped  like  the  leaf  of  the 
puvarasa  tree  {Thespesia  populnea),  made  of  silver  or 
silvered  brass,  is  tied  round  the  waist  of  female  infants 
as  an  ornament.  Small,  flat  plates  of  copper,  called 
takudu,  are  frequently  worn  by  children.  One  side  is 
divided  into  sixteen  squares,  in  which,  what  look  like 
the  Telugu  numerals  nine,  ten,  eleven  and  twelve  are 
engraved.  On  the  other  side  a  circle  is  drawn,  which  is 
divided  into  eight  segments,  in  each  of  which  a  Telugu 
letter  is  inscribed.  This  charm  is  supposed  to  protect 
the  wearer  from  harm  coming  from  any  of  the  eight 


cardinal  points  of  the  Indian  compass.  Charms,  in  the 
form  of  metal  cylinders,  are  worn  for  the  same  purpose 
by  adults  and  children,  and  procured  from  some  exor- 
cist. Similar  or  the  same  charms  are  worn  to  avoid 
the  baneful  influence  of  the  evil  eye.  To  prevent  this 
from  affecting  their  crops,  Paraiyans  put  up  scarecrows  in 
their  fields.  These  are  usually  small  broken  earthen  pots, 
whitewashed  or  covered  with  spots  of  whitewash,  or 
even  adorned  with  huge  clay  noses  and  ears,  and  made 
into  grotesque  faces.  They  are  set  up  on  the  end  of 
poles,  to  attract  the  eye  of  the  passer-by  from  the  crop. 
For  the  same  reason  more  elaborate  figures,  made  of 
mud  and  twigs,  in  human  shape,  are  sometimes  set  up. 
Before  wells  are  sunk,  a  charmer  (mantirakkaran)  is  called 
in  to  recite  spells  and  find  a  likely  spot,  cocoanuts  are 
broken,  and  the  milk  thereof  poured  out  to  propitiate  the 
gods  of  the  place. 

The  Paraiyans  are  very  largely  employed  as  domestic 
servants  by  Europeans.  And  it  has  been  said  that  "so 
necessary  to  the  comfort  of  the  public  is  the  Paraiya 
that  orthodox  Brahman  gentlemen  may  be  seen  em- 
ploying Paraiya  coachmen  and  syces  (footmen).  The 
Christian  Paraiya  has  become  '  Native  Christian '  caste, 
and  has  achieved,  among  other  things,  University 
honours,  the  wearing  of  the  surplice,  and  the  rod  of  the 
pedagogue."  *  Vast  numbers  of  Paraiyans  are  agricul- 
tural labourers.  Till  a  score  or  so  of  years  ago  some 
were  actually  bond  serfs,  and  there  are  instances  on 
record  in  quite  recent  years,  which  show  that  it  was  no 
infrequent  thing  for  a  Paraiyan  to  mortgage  his  son  as 
security  for  the  repayment  of  a  loan.  Some  Paraiya 
families  own  much  land. 

*  A.  P.  Smith.    Malabar  Quart  :  Review,  1904. 


It  is  noted  by  Mr.  Francis*  that  in  the  South  Arcot 
district,  "their  numbers,  and  the  comparative  wealth 
which  ground-nut  {Arachis  hypogced)  cuhivation  has 
brought  them,  have  caused  them  to  take  a  rather  better 
social  position  here  than  elsewhere,  and  they  are  actually 
beginning  to  copy  the  social  ways  of  the  higher  castes, 
sometimes  burning  their  dead  (though  those  who  have 
died  of  cholera  or  small-pox  are  still  always  buried), 
marrying  their  children  when  infants,  and  looking  with 
disfavour  on  the  remarriage  of  widows." 

Current  Tamil  speech  and  custom  divide  the  land- 
less labouring  Paraiyans  into  padiyal  and  kuliyal.  The 
padiyal  is  definitely  and  hereditarily  attached  to  some 
land-holding  family  in  the  Hindu  grama.  He  can  work 
for  no  one  else,  and  cannot  change  masters.  His  privi- 
lege is  that  in  times  of  drought  and  famine  his  master 
must  support  him.  The  kuliyal  is  a  mere  day  labourer, 
only  employed,  and  therefore  only  receiving  pay  (kuli) 
when  required.  He  has  no  claim  for  maintenance  in 
seasons  of  scarcity,  and,  though  no  man's  serf,  is  worse 
off  than  the  padiyal. 

Three  communal  servants,  the  grave-digger  (Vetti- 
yan),  watchman  (Talaiyari),  and  scavenger  (Toti)  are  all 
Paraiyans.  The  Vettiyan  officiates  when  a  corpse  is 
buried  or  burned.  Hence  the  proverb  against  meddling 
in  what  ought  to  be  left  to  some  one  else  : — "  Let  the 
Vettiyan  and  the  corpse  struggle  together.  "  The  Rev. 
H.  Jensen  notes  t  in  connection  with  this  proverb  that 
"  when  fire  is  applied  to  the  pyre  at  the  burning-ground, 
it  sometimes  happens  that  the  muscles  of  the  corpse 
contract  in  such  a  fashion  that  the  body  moves,  and  the 
grave-digger  has  to  beat  it  down  into  the  fire.     It  looks 

•  Gazetteer  of  the  South  Arcot  district. 
t  Classified  Collection  of  Tamil  Proverbs,  1897. 
VI-8  B 


as  if  the  two  were  engaged  in  a  struggle.  But  no  one 
else  should  interfere.  The  grave-digger  knows  his  own 
work  best." 

It  is  noted  by  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart*  that  "among  the 
lower  class  of  Vellam  Paraiyans,  who  are  the  village 
totis,  the  following  legend  is  current,  accounting  for  the 
perquisites  which  they  get  for  performing  the  menial 
work  of  the  village.  When  Adi  Sesha  was  supporting 
the  earth,  he  became  weary,  and  prayed  to  Siva  for 
assistance.  Siva  ordered  a  Paraiyan  to  beat  upon  his 
drum,  and  cry  '  Let  the  ripe  decay.'  The  Paraiyan 
enquired  what  should  be  his  reward,  and  was  granted  the 
following  privileges,  viz.,  mankuli  (reward  for  burning 
corpses),  san  tuni  (a  span  cloth),  vaykkarisi  (the  rice  in  the 
corpse's  mouth),  pinda  soru  (morsel  of  boiled  rice),  and 
suttu  kuli  (fee  for  bringing  firewood).  This  seemed  to 
the  Paraiya  very  little,  and  so,  to  increase  the  death-rate 
and  consequently  his  perquisites,  he  cried  *  Let  the  ripe 
and  the  unripe  decay.'  The  swami  (god)  remonstrated 
with  him,  for  the  result  of  his  cry  was  that  children  and 
the  middle-aged  among  men  died.  The  man  pleaded 
poverty,  and  was  given  four  additional  privileges,  viz.,  a 
merkal  to  measure  grain,  a  rod  to  measure  the  ground, 
a  scythe  to  cut  grass,  and  the  privilege  of  carrying  thfe 
karagam-pot  when  annually  running  over  the  village 
boundary.  All  the  above  privileges  still  belong  to  the 
village  vettis,  who  receive  fees  for  performing  the  duties 
referred  to  in  the  legend. " 

Some  Paraiyans  eat  carrion,  and  Mr.  Clayton  has 
known  them  dig  up  a  buffalo  which  had  been  buried 
some  hours,  and  eat  its  flesh.  It  is  said  that  even  the 
lowest  Paraiyans  will  not  eat  the  flesh  of  cows,  but  leave 

•  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 


that  to  the  leather-dressers  (Chakkiliyans).  Mr.  Stuart, 
however,  states  *  that  "  the  Konga  Paraiyans  and  the 
Vellam  Paraiyans,  who  do  scavenging  work,  will  eat  cows 
that  have  died  a  natural  death,  while  Tangalans  only 
eat  such  as  have  been  slaughtered.  "  In  time  of  famine, 
the  Paraiyans  dig  into  ant-hills  to  rob  the  ants  of  their 
store  of  grass  seed.  This  is  called  pillarisi  or  grass  rice. 
There  are  many  proverbs  in  Tamil,  which  refer  to 
Paraiyans,  from  which  the  following  are  selected  : — 

(i)  If  a  Paraiyan  boils  rice,  will  it  not  reach  God  ? 
i.e.,  God  will  notice  all  piety,  even  that  of  a  Paraiyan. 

(2)  When  a  Paraiya  woman  eats  betel,  her  ten 
fingers  (will  be  daubed  with)  lime.  The  Paraiya  woman 
is  a  proverbial  slut. 

(3)  Though  a  Paraiya  woman's  child  be  put  to 
school,  it  will  still  say  Ayye.  Ayye  is  vulgar  Tamil  for 
Aiyar,  meaning  Sir. 

(4)  The  palmyra  palm  has  no  shadow  ;  the  Parai- 
yan has  no  decency.  A  contemptuous  reference  to 
Paraiya  morality. 

(5)  The  gourd  flower  and  the  Paraiyan's  song 
have  no  savour.  Paraiyans  use  this  saying  about  their 
own  singing. 

(6)  Though  seventy  years  of  age,  a  Paraiyan  will 
only  do  what  he  is  compelled. 

(7)  You  may  believe  a  Paraiyan,  even  in  ten  ways  ; 
you  cannot  believe  a  Brahman.  Almost  the  only  saying 
in  favour  of  the  Paraiyan. 

(8)  Is  the  sepoy  who  massacred  a  thousand  horse 
now  living  in  disgrace  with  the  dogs  of  the  paracheri  } 

(9)  Paraiyan's  talk  is  half-talk.  A  reference  to 
Paraiya  vulgarisms  of  speech. 

op  cii. 


(lo)  Like  Paraiya  and  Brahman,  i.e.,  as  different 
as  possible. 

(ii)  Not  even  a  Paraiyan  will  plough  on  a  full 
moon  day. 

(12)  Paracheri  manure  gives  a  better  yield  than 
any  other  manure. 

(13)  The  drum  is  beaten  at  weddings,  and  also  at 
funerals.  Said,  according  to  the  Rev.  H.  Jensen,  of  a 
double-dealing  unreliable  person,  who  is  as  ready  for 
good  as  for  evil. 

(14)  The  harvest  of  the  Paraiya  never  comes  home. 
The  term  Paraiya,  it  may  be  noted,  is  applied  to  the 

common  dog  of  Indian  towns  and  villages,  and  to  the 
scavenger  kite,  Milvus  Govinda. 

The  Paraiyans  are  included  by  Mr.  F.  S.  Mullaly  in 
his  *  Notes  on  Criminal  Classes  of  the  Madras  Presi- 
dency. '  "  The  local  criminals,  "  he  writes,  "  throughout 
the  Presidency  in  all  villages  are  the  Paraiyas,  and, 
though  they  cannot  be  considered  de  facto  a  criminal 
tribe,  yet  a  very  large  proportion  of  the  criminals  of  the 
Presidency  are  of  this  caste,  notable  among  them  being 
the  Vepur  Paraiyas  of  South  Arcot."  For  an  account  of 
these  Vepur  Paraiyas  and  their  methods  I  must  refer  the 
reader  to  Mr.  Mullaly's  description  thereof.  Concerning 
these  criminal  Paraiyans,  Mr.  Francis  writes  as  follows.* 
"  There  is  one  branch  of  them  in  Suttukulam,  a  hamlet 
of  Cuddalore.  They  are  often  known  as  the  Tiruttu 
(thieving)  Paraiyans.  The  crimes  to  which  they  are  most 
addicted  are  house-breaking  and  the  theft  of  cattle,  sheep 
and  goats,  and  the  difficulty  of  bringing  them  to  book  is 
increased  by  the  organised  manner  in  which  they  carry  on 
their  depredations.     They  are,  for  example,  commonly  in 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  South  Arcot  district. 


league  with  the  very  heads  of  villages,  who  ought  to  be 
doing  their  utmost  to  secure  their  arrest,  and  they  have 
useful  allies  in  some  of  the  Udaiyans  of  these  parts.  It 
is  commonly  declared  that  their  relations  are  sometimes 
of  a  closer  nature,  and  that  the  wives  of  Vepur  Paraiyans 
who  are  in  enforced  retirement  are  cared  for  by  the 
Udaiyans.  To  this  is  popularly  attributed  the  undoubted 
fact  that  these  Paraiyans  are  often  much  fairer  in  com- 
plexion than  other  members  of  that  caste."  It  is  said  to 
be  traditional  among  the  Vepur  Paraiyans  that  the  talis 
(marriage  badges)  of  Hindu  women  and  lamps  should 
not  be  stolen  from  a  house,  and  that  personal  violence 
should  not  be  resorted  to,  except  when  unavoidably 
necessary  for  the  purpose  of  escape  or  self-defence. 

In  a  kindly  note  on  the  Paraiya  classes,    Surgeon- 
Major  W.  R.  Cornish  sums  them  up  as  follows.*     "  A 
laborious,  frugal,  and  pleasure-loving  people,  they  are  the 
very  life-blood  of  the  country,  in  whatever  field  of  labour 
they  engage  in.     The   British  administration  has  freed 
them,   as   a   community,    from   the   yoke   of  hereditary 
slavery,  and  from  the  legal  disabilities  under  which  they 
suffered  ;  but  they  still  remain  in  the  lowest  depths  of 
social  degradation.     The  Christian  missionaries,  to  their 
undying  honour  be  it  said,  have,  as  a  rule,  persevered  in 
breaking  through  the  time-honoured  custom  of  treating 
the  Paraiya  as  dirt,  and  have  admitted  him  to  equal  rights 
and  privileges  in  their  schools  and  churches,  and,  what- 
ever may  be  the  present  position  of  the  Paraiya  com- 
munity in  regard  to  education,  intelligence,  and  ability  to 
hold  a  place  for  themselves,  they  owe  it  almost  wholly  to 
the  Christian  men  and  women  who  have  given  up  their 
lives  to  win  souls  for  their  great  Master." 

♦  Madras  Census  Report,  1871. 


Paraiyans  of  Malabar,   Cochin  and  Travan- 

COre.— For  the  following  note  on  the  Paraiyans  or 
Paraiyas  of  Cochin  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  L.  K.  Anantha 
Krishna  Aiyar."^  Paraiyas  belong  to  a  very  low  caste 
of  the  agrestic  serfs  of  Cochin,  next  to  Pulayas  in  order 
of  social  precedence.  They  will  eat  at  the  hands  of  all 
castes,  save  Ulladans,  Nayadis,  and  Pulayas.  But  ortho- 
dox Pulayas  have  to  bathe  five  times,  and  let  blood  flow, 
in  order  to  be  purified  from  pollution  if  they  touch  a 
Paraiya.  In  rural  parts,  a  Paraiya's  hut  may  be  seen  far 
away  on  the  hill-side.  At  the  approach  of  a  member  of 
some  higher  caste,  the  inmates  run  away  to  the  forest. 
They  cannot  walk  along  the  public  roads,  or  in  the 
vicinity  of  houses  occupied  by  the  higher  castes.  It  is 
said  that  they  at  times  steal  the  children  of  Nayars,  and 
hide  them  in  the  forest,  to  bring  them  up  as  their  own. 
They  are  extremely  filthy  in  person  and  habits.  They 
very  rarely  bathe,  or  wash  their  bodies,  and  a  cloth, 
purchased  at  harvest  time,  is  worn  till  it  falls  to  pieces. 
They  will  eat  the  flesh  of  cattle,  and  are  on  this  account 
despised  even  by  the  Pulayas.  They  are  their  own 
barbers  and  washermen. 

A  legend  runs  to  the  effect  that  Vararuchi,  the  famous 
astrologer,  and  son  of  a  Brahman  named  Chandragupta 
and  his  Brahman  wife,  became  the  King  of  Avanthi,  and 
ruled  till  Vikramaditya,  the  son  of  Chandragupta  by  his 
Kshatriya  wife,  came  of  age,  when  he  abdicated  in  his 
favour.  Once,  when  he  was  resting  under  an  ashwastha 
tree  [Ficus  religiosa),  invoking  the  support  of  the  deity 
living  therein,  he  overheard  the  conversation  of  two 
Gandarvas  on  the  tree,  to  the  effect  that  he  would  marry 
a  Paraiya  girl.     This  he  prevented  by  requesting  the 

•  Monograph  Eth.  Survey.     Cochin. 


king  to  have  her  enclosed  in  a  box,  and  floated  down 
a  river  with  a  nail  stuck  into  her  head.  The  box  was 
taken  possession  of  by  a  Brahman,  who  was  bathing 
lower  down,  and,  on  opening  it,  he  found  a  beautiful  girl, 
whom  he  considered  to  be  a  divine  gift,  and  regarded 
as  his  own  daughter.  One  day  the  Brahman,  seeing 
Vararuchi  passing  by,  invited  him  to  mess  with  him,  and 
his  invitation  was  accepted  on  condition  that  he  would 
prepare  eighteen  curries,  and  give  him  what  remained 
after  feeding  a  hundred  Brahmans.  The  Brahman  was 
puzzled,  but  the  maiden,  taking  a  long  leaf,  placed  there- 
on a  preparation  of  ginger  corresponding  to  eighteen 
curries,  and  with  it  some  boiled  rice  used  as  an  offering 
at  the  Vaiswadeva  ceremony,  as  the  equivalent  of  the 
food  for  Brahmans.  Knowing  this  to  be  the  work  of 
the  maiden,  Vararuchi  desired  to  marry  her,  and  his  wish 
was  acceded  to  by  the  Brahman.  One  day,  while  con- 
versing with  his  wife  about  their  past  lives,  he  chanced 
to  see  a  nail  stuck  in  her  head,  and  he  knew  her  to  be  the 
girl  whom  he  had  caused  to  be  floated  down  the  stream. 
He  accordingly  resolved  to  go  on  a  pilgrimage  with  his 
wife,  bathing  in  rivers,  and  worshipping  at  temples.  At 
last  they  came  to  Kerala,  where  the  woman  bore  him 
twelve  sons,  all  of  whom,  except  one,  were  taken  care  of 
by  members  of  different  castes.  They  were  all  remark- 
able for  their  wisdom,  and  believed  to  be  the  avatar 
(incarnation)  of  Vishnu,  gifted  with  the  power  of 
performing  miracles.  One  of  them  was  Pakkanar,  the 
great  Malayalam  bard.  Once,  it  is  said,  when  some 
Brahmans  resolved  to  go  to  Benares,  Pakkanar  tried  to 
dissuade  them  from  so  doing  by  telling  them  that  the 
journey  to  the  sacred  city  would  not  be  productive  of 
salvation.  To  prove  the  fruitlessness  of  their  journey, 
he  plucked  a  lotus  flower  from  a  stagnant  pool,  and  gave 


it   to    them   with  instructions  to  deliver  it  to  a    hand 
which  would  rise  from  the  Ganges,  when  they  were  to 
say  that  it  was  a  present  for  the  goddess  Ganga  from 
Pakkanar.     They  did  as  directed,  and  returned  with  news 
of  the  miracle.     Pakkanar  then  led  them  to  the  stagnant 
pool,   and  said    "  Please  return  the    lotus   flower,   Oh ! 
Ganga,"  when  it  appeared  in  his  hand.     Pakkanar  is  said 
to  have  earned  his  living  by  the  sale  of  the  wicker-work, 
which  he  made.     One  day  he  could  not  sell  his  baskets, 
and  he  had  to  go  starving.     A  neighbour,  however,  gave 
him  some  milk,  which  Pakkanar  accepted,  and  told  the 
donor  to  think  of  him  if  ever  he  was  in  danger.     The 
neighbour  had  a  married  daughter  living  with  him,  who, 
some  time  after,  was  dying  of  snake-bite.     But  her  father 
remembered  the  words  of  Pakkanar,  who  came  to  the 
rescue,  and  cured  her.     One  of  Pakkanar's  brothers  was 
named  Narayana  Branthan,  who  pretended  to  be  a  lunatic, 
and  whose  special  delight  was  in  rolling  huge  stones  up 
a  hill,  for  the  pleasure  of  seeing  them  roll  down.     Though 
the  son  of  a  Brahman,  he  mixed  freely  with  members  of 
all  castes,  and  had  no  scruple  about  dining  with  them. 
A  Nambutiri  Brahman  once  asked  him  to  choose  an  aus- 
picious day  for  the  performance  of  his  son's  upanayanam 
(thread   ceremony).     He  selected   a   most   inauspicious 
day  and  hour,  when   the   boy's  family   assembled  and 
asked  Narayana  whether  the  rite  should  be  celebrated. 
He  told  the  father  to   look  at  the  sky,  which  became 
brilliantly  illuminated,  and  a  Brahman  was  seen  changing 
his  sacred  thread.     The  omen  being  considered  favour- 
able, the  investiture  ceremony  was  proceeded  with. 

The  Paraiyas  of  Malabar  and  Cochin  are  celebrated 
for  their  knowledge  of  black  magic,  and  are  consulted  in 
matters  relating  to  theft,  demoniacal  influence,  and  the 
killing  of  enemies.     Whenever  anything  is  stolen,  the 



Paraiya  magician  is  consulted.  Giving  hopes  of  the 
recovery  of  the  stolen  article,  he  receives  from  his  client 
some  paddy  (rice)  and  a  few  panams  (money),  with  which 
he  purchases  plantain  fruits,  a  cocoanut  or  two,  toddy, 
camphor,  frankincense,  and  rice  flour.  After  bathing, 
he  offers  these  to  his  favourite  deity  Parakutti,  who  is 
represented  by  a  stone  placed  in  front  of  his  hut.  Rattling 
an  iron  instrument,  and  singing  till  his  voice  almost  fails, 
he  invokes  the  god.  If  the  lost  property  does  not  turn 
up,  he  resorts  to  a  more  indignant  and  abusive  form  of 
invocation.  If  the  thief  has  to  be  caught,  his  prayers 
are  redoubled,  and  he  becomes  possessed,  and  blood 
passes  out  of  his  nose  and  mouth.  When  a  person  is 
ill,  or  under  the  influence  of  a  demon,  an  astrologer  and 
a  magician  named  by  the  former  are  consulted.  The 
magician,  taking  a  cadjan  (palm)  leaf  or  copper  or  silver 
sheet,  draws  thereon  cabalistic  figures,  and  utters  a  man- 
tram  (prayer).  Rolling  up  the  leaf  or  sheet,  he  ties  it 
to  a  thread,  and  it  is  worn  round  the  neck  in  the  case 
of  a  woman,  and  round  the  loins  in  the  case  of  a  man. 
Sometimes  the  magician,  taking  a  thread,  makes  several 
knots  in  it,  while  reciting  a  mantram.  The  thread  is 
worn  round  the  neck  or  wrist.  Or  ashes  are  thrown 
over  a  sick  person,  and  rubbed  over  the  forehead  and 
breast,  while  a  mantram  is  repeated.  Of  mantrams,  the 
following  may  be  cited  as  examples.  "  Salutation  to 
god  with  a  thousand  locks  of  matted  hair,  a  thousand 
hands  filling  the  three  worlds  and  overflowing  the  same. 
Oh !  Goddess  mother,  out  of  the  supreme  soul,  descend. 
Oh  !  Sundara  Yaksha  (handsome  she-devil),  Swaha  (an 
efficacious  word)."  **  Salutation  to  god.  He  bears  a 
lion  on  his  head,  or  is  in  the  form  of  a  lion  in  the  upper 
part  of  his  body.  In  the  mooladhara  sits  Garuda,  the 
lord  of  birds,  enemy  of  serpents,  and  vahana  (vehicle)  of 


Vishnu.  He  has  Lakshmana  to  the  left,  Rama  to  the 
right,  Hanuman  in  front,  Ravana  behind,  and  all  around, 
above,  below,  everywhere  he  has  Sri  Narayana  Swaha. 
Mayst  thou  watch  over  or  protect  me." 

The  Paraiyans  are  notorious  for  the  performance  of 
marana  kriyakal,  or  ceremonies  for  the  killing  of  enemies. 
They  resort  to  various  methods,  of  which  the  following 
are  examples : — 

(i)  Make  an  image  in  wax  in  the  form  of  your 
enemy.  Take  it  in  your  right  hand,  and  your  chain  of 
beads  in  your  left  hand.  Then  burn  the  image  with  due 
rites,  and  it  shall  slay  your  enemy  in  a  fortnight. 

(2)  Take  a  human  bone  from  a  burial-ground,  and 
recite  over  it  a  thousand  times  the  following  mantra  : — 
"  Oh,  swine-faced  goddess  !  seize  him,  seize  him  as  a 
victim.  Drink  his  blood  ;  eat,  eat  his  flesh.  Oh,  image 
of  imminent  death  !  Malayala  Bhagavathi."  The  bone, 
thrown  into  the  enemy's  house,  will  cause  his  ruin. 

Odi  or  oti  cult  (breaking  the  human  body)  is  the 
name  given  to  a  form  of  black  magic  practiced  by  the 
Paraiyans,  who,  when  proficient  in  it,  are  believed  to  be 
able  to  render  themselves  invisible,  or  assume  the  form 
of  a  bull,  cat,  or  dog.  They  are  supposed  to  be  able  to 
entice  pregnant  women  from  their  houses  at  dead  of 
night,  to  destroy  the  foetus  in  the  womb,  and  substitute 
other  substances  for  it ;  to  bring  sickness  and  death 
upon  people  ;  and  so  to  bewitch  people  as  to  transport 
them  from  one  place  to  another.  A  Paraiya  who  wishes 
to  practice  the  cult  goes  to  a  guru  (preceptor),  and, 
falling  at  his  feet,  humbly  requests  that  he  may  be 
admitted  into  the  mysteries  of  the  art.  The  master 
first  tries  to  dissuade  him,  but  the  disciple  persists  in 
the  desire  to  learn  it.  He  is  then  tried  by  various  tests 
as  to  his  fitness.     He  follows  his  master  to  the  forests 


and  lonely  places  at  midnight.  The  master  suddenly 
makes  himself  invisible,  and  soon  appears  before  him 
in  the  form  of  a  terrible  bull,  a  ferocious  dog,  or  an 
elephant,  when  the  novice  should  remain  calm  and 
collected.  He  is  also  required  to  pass  a  night  or  two 
in  the  forest,  which,  according  to  his  firm  belief,  is  full 
of  strange  beings  howling  horribly.  He  should  remain 
unmoved.  By  these  and  other  trials,  he  is  tested  as 
to  his  fitness.  Having  passed  through  the  various 
ordeals,  the  guru  initiates  him  into  the  brotherhood 
by  the  performance  of  puja  on  an  auspicious  day  to 
his  favourite  Nlli,  called  also  Kallatikode  Nili,  through 
whose  aid  he  works  his  black  art.  Flesh  and  liquor  are 
consumed,  and  the  disciple  is  taught  how  to  prepare 
pilla  thilam  and  angola  thilam,  which  are  the  potent 
medicines  for  the  working  of  his  cult.  The  chief  ingre- 
dient in  the  preparation  of  pilla  thilam,  or  baby  oil,  is 
the  sixth  or  seventh  month's  foetus  of  a  primipara,  who 
should  belong  to  a  caste  other  than  that  of  the  sorcerer. 
Having  satisfied  himself  that  the  omens  are  favourable, 
he  sets  out  at  midnight  for  the  house  of  the  woman 
selected  as  his  victim,  and  walks  several  times  round 
it,  waving  a  cocoanut  shell  containing  a  mixture  of  lime 
and  turmeric  water  (gurusi),  and  muttering  mantrams  to 
secure  the  aid  of  the  deity.  He  also  draws  yantrams 
(cabalistic  devices)  on  the  ground.  The  woman  is  com- 
pelled to  come  out  of  her  house.  Even  if  the  door  is 
locked,  she  will  bang  her  head  against  it,  and  force  it 
open.  The  sorcerer  leads  her  to  a  retired  spot,  strips 
her  naked,  and  tells  her  to  lie  flat  on  the  ground.  This 
she  does,  and  a  vessel  made  of  a  gourd  {Lagenaria)  is 
placed  close  to  her  vagina.  The  uterus  then  contracts, 
and  the  foetus  emerges.  Sometimes,  it  is  said,  the  uterus 
is  filled  with  some  rubbish,  and  the  woman  instantly  dies. 


Care  is  taken  that  the  foetus  does  not  touch  the  ground, 
as  the  potency  of  the  drug  would  thereby  be  ruined. 
The  foetus  is  cut  to  pieces,  and  smoked  over  a  fire.  It 
is  then  placed  in  a  vessel  provided  with  a  few  holes, 
below  which  is  another  vessel.  The  two  are  placed  in 
a  larger  receptacle  filled  with  water,  which  is  heated 
over  a  fire.  From  the  foetus  a  liquid  exudes,  which  is 
collected  in  the  lower  vessel.  A  human  skull  is  then 
reduced  to  a  fine  powder,  which  is  mixed  with  a  por- 
tion of  the  liquid  (thilam).  With  the  mixture  a  mark  is 
made  on  the  forehead  of  the  sorcerer,  who  rubs  some  of  it 
over  various  parts  of  his  body,  and  drinks  a  small  quantity 
of  cow-dung  water.  He  then  thinks  that  he  can  assume 
the  form  of  any  animal  he  likes,  and  achieve  his  object 
in  view,  be  it  murder  or  bodily  injury.  The  magic  oil, 
called  angola  thilam,  is  extracted  from  the  angola  tree 
(Alangium  Lamarckii),  which  bears  a  very  large  number 
of  fruits.  One  of  these  is  believed  to  be  endowed  with 
life  and  power  of  motion,  and  to  be  capable  of  descend- 
ing and  returning  to  its  original  position  on  dark  nights. 
Its  possession  can  be  attained  by  demons,  or  by  an  expert 
watching  at  the  foot  of  the  tree.  When  it  has  been 
secured,  the  extraction  of  the  oil  involves  the  same  opera- 
tions as  those  for  extracting  the  pilla  thilam,  and  they 
must  be  carried  out  within  seven  hours.  A  mark  made 
on  the  forehead  with  the  oil  enables  its  wearer  to  achieve 
his  desires,  and  to  transform  himself  into  some  animal. 

When  a  person  has  an  enemy  whom  he  wishes  to 
get  rid  of,  the  Paraiya  magician  is  consulted,  and  the 
name  of  the  enemy  given  to  him.  Identifying  his  resi- 
dence, the  Paraiya  starts  off  on  a  dark  night,  and  anyone 
whom  he  comes  across  is  at  once  dispatched  with  a  blow. 
The  victim  comes  out  of  his  house  in  a  state  of  stupe- 
faction, and  the  magician  puts  him  to  death  either  by  a 

127  '      PARAIYAN 

blow  on  the  head,  or  by  suffocating  him  with  two  sticks 
applied  to  his  neck.  Odi  cult  is  said  to  have  been 
practiced  till  only  a  few  years  ago  in  the  rural  parts  of  the 
northern  part  of  the  State,  and  in  the  taluks  of  Palghat 
and  Walluvanad  in  Malabar,  and  even  now  it  has  not 
entirely  died  out.  But  cases  of  extracting  foetuses  and 
putting  persons  to  death  are  not  heard  of  at  the  present 
day,  owing  to  the  fear  of  Government  officials,  landlords, 
and  others.  The  story  is  current  of  a  Nayar  village  offi- 
cial, who  had  two  fine  bullocks,  which  a  Mappila  wished 
to  purchase.  The  Nayar,  however,  was  unwilling  to  part 
with  them.  The  Mappila  accordingly  engaged  some 
men  to  steal  the  animals.  Availing  themselves  of  the 
absence  of  the  Nayar  from  home,  the  robbers  went  to  his 
house,  where  they  saw  a  Paraiya  and  his  wife  practicing 
the  odi  cult,  and  compelling  a  young  woman  to  come 
out  of  the  house,  and  lie  on  the  ground.  Catching  hold 
of  the  Paraiya,  the  robbers  tied  him  to  a  tree,  and  secured 
him.  The  man  and  his  wife  were  beaten,  and  the  would- 
be  robbers  rewarded  with  a  present  of  the  bullocks. 

The  Paraiyans  have  no  temples  of  their  own,  but 
worship  Siva  or  Kali.  According  to  a  legend,  in  Treta- 
yuga  (the  second  age),  a  Paraiya  named  Samvara,  and 
his  wife  Pulini  were  living  in  a  forest,  and  one  day 
came  across  a  Sivalinga  (stone  lingam)  at  a  dilapidated 
temple,  which  they  kept,  and  worshipped  with  offerings 
of  flesh,  and  by  smearing  it  with  ashes  from  the  burial- 
ground.  On  a  certain  day,  no  ashes  were  available,  and 
the  woman  offered  to  have  her  body  burnt,  so  that  the 
ashes  thereof  might  be  used.  With  much  reluctance 
her  husband  sacrificed  her,  and  performed  puja.  Then 
he  turned  round  to  offer,  as  usual,  the  prasadam  to  his 
wife  forgetting  that  she  was  dead,  and  he  was  surprised 
to  see  her  standing  before  him,  receiving  his  offering 


(prasadam),  in  flesh  and  blood.  Highly  pleased  with 
their  conduct,  Siva  appeared  in  person  before  them,  and 
gave  them  absolution. 

In  every  small  village  in  the  rural  parts,  is  a  small 
Bhagavati  temple,  to  the  deity  of  which  the  Paraiyas  are 
devotedly  attached,  and  look  to  it  for  protection  in  times 
of  cholera,  small-pox,  or  other  calamities.  Kodungalur 
Bhagavati  is  their  guardian  deity,  and  they  take  part  in 
the  festivals  (yela)  at  the  shrine.  A  few  days  before  the 
festival,  a  piece  of  cloth  is  given  to  the  Velichapad 
(oracle),  who  dresses  himself  in  it,  wears  a  piece  of  red 
cloth  round  his  neck,  a  peculiar  dress  around  his  loins, 
and  ties  a  few  small  bells  (chelamba)  round  his  legs. 
Accompanied  by  others  with  drums  and  fife  and  a  basket, 
he  goes  to  every  Nayar  house  daily  for  seven  days,  and 
receives  presents  of  paddy,  wherewith  to  defray  the 
expenses  of  the  festival.  During  the  celebration  thereof, 
the  Velichapad  and  others  go  to  a  shed  at  a  distance 
from  the  temple  (kavu),  some  dressed  up  as  ghosts,  and 
dance  and  sing,  to  the  accompaniment  of  a  band,  in 
honour  of  the  deity. 

In  a  note  on  the  Paraiyans  of  Malabar,  Mr.  T.  K. 
Gopaul  Panikkar  writes*  that  "at  certain  periods  of  the 
year  the  Paraiyas  have  to  assume  the  garb  of  an  evil 
deity,  with  large  head-dresses  and  paintings  on  the  body 
and  face,  and  tender  cocoanut  leaves  hanging  loose 
around  their  waists,  all  these  embellishments  being  of 
the  rudest  patterns.  With  figures  such  as  these,  terror- 
striking  in  themselves,  dancing  with  tom-toms  sounding 
and  horns  blowing,  representing  the  various  temple 
deities,  they  visit  the  Nair  houses,  professing  thereby 
to  drive  off  any  evil  deities  that  may  be  haunting  their 

*  Malabar  and  its  Folk,  1900. 


neighbourhood.  After  their  dues  have  been  given  to 
them,  they  go  their  ways ;  and,  on  the  last  day,  after 
finishing  their  house-to-house  visits,  they  collect  near 
their  special  temples  to  take  part  in  the  vela  tamasha 

On  the  first  of  every  month,  a  ceremony  called 
kalasam  is  performed  on  behalf  of  the  spirits  of  the 
departed.  Fish,  cooked  meat,  rice,  parched  grain,  plan- 
tain fruits,  cocoanuts,  toddy,  and  other  things,  are  placed 
on  a  leaf  with  a  lighted  lamp  in  front  of  it.  A  prayer 
is  then  uttered,  expressing  a  hope  that  the  ancestors 
will  partake  of  the  food  which  has  been  procured  for 
them  with  much  difficulty,  and  protect  the  living.  One 
man,  becoming  inspired,  acts  the  part  of  an  oracle,  and 
addresses  those  assembled. 

The  following  story  is  narrated  concerning  the  origin 
of  the  Elankunnapuzha  temple  on  the  island  of  Vypin. 
When  some  Paraiyas  were  cutting  reeds,  one  of  them 
discovered  a  remarkable  idol  and  fell  into  a  trance,  under 
the  influence  of  which  he  informed  the  Raja  of  Cochin 
that  the  idol  originally  belonged  to  the  Trichendur 
temple  in  Tinnevelly,  and  that  he  must  build  a  shrine 
for  it.  This  was  accordingly  done,  and  to  the  Paraiyan 
who  discovered  the  idol  a  daily  allowance  of  rice,  and  a 
larger  quantity  of  rice  during  the  annual  temple  festival 
were  given.  In  return,  he  had  to  supply  cadjan  (palm 
leaf)  umbrellas  used  at  the  daily  procession,  and  bamboo 
baskets  required  for  washing  the  rice  offered  to  the  idol. 
These  allowances  were  received  by  the  Perum  or  big 
Paraiyan  up  to  a  recent  date,  even  if  he  is  not  receiving 
them  at  the  present  day. 

When  a  Paraiyan  woman  is  delivered,  she  is  secluded 
for  two  weeks  in  a  temporary  hut  erected  at  a  short  dis- 
tance from  the  dwelling  hut.     On  the  tenth  day,  some  male 
VI -9 


member  of  the  family  goes  to  his  Brahman  or  Nayar 
landlord,  from  whom  he  receives  some  milk,  which  is 
sprinkled  over  the  woman  and  her  infant.  She  can  then 
come  to  the  verandah  of  her  home,  and  remains  there 
for  five  days,  when  she  is  purified  by  bathing.  The 
temporary  hut  is  burnt  down. 

The  dead  are  buried,  and  the  corpse,  after  being  laid 
in  the  grave,  is  covered  with  a  mat. 

The  Paraiyas  are  engaged  in  the  manufacture  of 
wicker  baskets,  bamboo  mats,  and  cadjan  umbrellas. 
They  also  take  part  in  all  kinds  of  agricultural  work, 
and,  when  ploughing,  will  not  use  buffaloes,  which  are 
regarded  as  unclean  beasts,  the  touch  of  which  neces- 
sitates a  ceremonial  ablution. 

Many  Paraiyans  become  converts  to  Christianity, 
and  thereby  receive  a  rise  in  the  social  scale,  and  a 
freedom  from  the  disabilities  under  which  their  lowly 
position  in  the  social  scale  places  them. 

In  1829  several  natives  of  Malabar  were  charged 
with  having  proceeded,  in  company  with  a  Paraiyan,  to  the 
house  of  a  pregnant  woman,  who  was  beaten  and  other- 
wise ill-treated,  and  with  having  taken  the  foetus  out 
of  her  uterus,  and  introduced  in  lieu  thereof  the  skin 
of  a  calf  and  an  earthen  pot.  The  prisoners  confessed 
before  the  police,  but  were  acquitted,  mainly  on  the 
ground  that  the  earthen  pot  was  of  a  size  which  rendered 
it  impossible  to  credit  its  introduction  during  life. 

In  1834  the  inhabitants  of  several  villages  in  Malabar 
attacked  a  village  of  Paraiyans  on  the  alleged  ground 
that  deaths  of  people  and  cattle,  and  the  protracted 
labour  of  a  woman  in  childbed,  had  been  caused  by  the 
practice  of  sorcery  by  the  Paraiyans.  They  were  beaten 
inhumanely,  with  their  hands  tied  behind  their  backs,  so 
that  several  died.     The  villagers  were  driven,  bound,  into 


a  river,  immersed  under  water  so  as  nearly  to  produce 
suffocation,  and  their  own  children  were  forced  to  rub 
sand  into  their  wounds.  Their  settlement  was  then  razed 
to  the  ground  and  they  were  driven  into  banishment. 

The  following  extract  is  taken  from  a  note  on  the 
Paraiyans  of  Travancore  by  Mr.  N.  Subramani  Aiyar. 
The  Paraiyas  may  be  broadly  divided  into  two  classes, 
viz.,  the  Tamil-speaking  Paraiyas  of  the  east  coast  who 
are  found  in  considerable  numbers  in  the  southern 
taluks,  and  the  indigenous  Paraiyas,  who  mostly  abound 
in  Central  Travancore,  avoiding  the  sea-coast  taluks. 
The  latter  only  are  considered  here.  The  titles  owned 
by  some  are  Velan  conferred  upon  certain  families  for 
their  skill  in  magic ;  Panikkan ;  and  Muppan.  The 
Paraiyas  may  be  mainly  divided  into  four  divisions,  viz., 
Vellam  (water  or  jaggery?),  Vel  (a  lance),  Natuvile 
(middle),  and  Pani  (work).  The  last  is  considered  to 
be  the  lowest  in  the  social  scale,  and  members  thereof 
are  not  admitted  into  the  houses  of  the  other  divisions. 
One  theory  of  the  origin  of  the  Paraiyas  is  that  they 
were  formerly  one  with  the  Pulayas,  from  whom  they 
separated  on  account  of  their  eating  beef.  The  Paraiyas 
have  a  dialect  of  their  own,  with  which  the  Pulayas  are 
not  familiar,  and  which  would  seem  to  be  worthy  of 
study.  In  the  Keralolpathi,  they  are  classed  as  one 
of  the  sixteen  hill  tribes.  Concerning  their  origin  the 
following  tradition  is  current.  They  were  originally 
Brahmans,  but,  on  certain  coparceners  partitioning  the 
common  inheritance,  the  carcase  of  a  cow,  which  was 
one  of  the  articles  to  be  partitioned,  was  burnt  as  being 
useless.  A  drop  of  oil  fell  from  the  burning  animal 
on  to  one  of  the  parties,  and  he  licked  it  up  with  his 
tongue.  For  this  act  he  was  cast  out  of  society,  and 
his  descendants,  under  the   name  of   Paraiyas,  became 

VI-9  B 


cow-eaters.  Pakkanar  is  said  to  have  been  born  a 
Paraiyan,  though  subsequent  tradition  honours  him  with 
Brahmanical  parentage. 

The  houses  of  the  Paraiyas  are,  Hke  those  of  the 
Pulayas,  mean  thatched  sheds,  with  a  couple  of  cocoa- 
nut  leaves  often  serving  as  the  wall  between  one  room 
and  another.  The  village  sites  are  shifted  from  place 
to  place,  according  to  the  exigencies  of  the  inhabitants 
thereof.  The  Paraiyas  imbibe  freely,  and  toddy  is  the 
drink  most  scrupulously  prescribed  for  those  who  are 
under  a  vow.  Like  the  Pulayas,  the  Paraiyas  work 
in  the  rice  fields  and  cocoanut  gardens,  and  are 
employed  in  hill  cultivation,  and  the  manufacture  of 
wicker  baskets.  The  sun  god  is  their  principal  deity, 
and  in  his  name  all  solemn  oaths  are  uttered.  It  is 
believed  that  the  Brahman  who  originally  became  a 
Paraiya  cursed  Brahma.  To  remove  the  evil  effects  of 
the  curse,  the  sun  gave  to  his  descendants  as  objects 
of  worship  forty-eight  thousand  gods  and  eight  special 
deities.  A  certain  portion  of  the  house  is  regarded  as 
their  own,  and  to  them  offerings  of  beaten  rice  and 
toddy  are  made  on  the  first  of  every  month,  and,  if  con- 
venient, every  Tuesday  and  Friday.  To  these  deities 
small  shrines  are  dedicated,  whereat  the  priests,  on  the 
28th  of  Makaram  (January- February),  become  inspired, 
and  answer  questions  concerning  the  future  put  to  them 
by  the  assembled  Paraiyas.  The  priests  are  known  as 
Kaikkarans,  and  belong  ordinarily  to  the  lowest  or  Pani 

Adultery,  be  it  said  to  the  credit  of  the  Paraiyas,  is 
an  offence  which  is  severely  punished.  The  man  is  fined, 
and  the  erring  woman  has  to  jump  over  a  fire  which  is 
blazing  in  a  deep  pit.  This  ordeal  recalls  to  mind  the 
smarthavicharam  of  the  Namburi  Brahman. 


Pollution,  on  the  occurrence  of  the  first  monthly- 
period,  lasts  for  seven  days.  The  headmen  and  elders, 
called  Jajamanmar  and  Karanavanmar,  are  invited  to 
attend,  and  direct  four  women  of  the  village  to  take  the 
girl  to  a  hut  erected  at  a  considerable  distance  from  the 
house.  This  hut  is  called  pachchakottilil  kutiyiruttuka, 
or  seating  a  person  within  a  hut  made  of  green  leaves. 
On  the  fourth  day  the  girl  has  a  bath,  and  the  Kaikkaran 
waves  paddy  and  flowers  in  front  of  her.  On  the  morn- 
ing of  the  eighth  day  the  shed  is  burnt  down,  and  the 
place  occupied  by  it  cleansed  with  water  and  cow-dung. 
The  girl  bathes,  and  is  thus  rendered  free  from  pollution. 
A  woman,  during  her  menses,  should  remain  at  a 
distance  of  sixty-four  feet  from  others. 

The  Paraiyas  observe  two  marriage  rites,  the  tali- 
kettu  and  sambandham.  The  former  ceremony  must  be 
performed  before  the  girl  reaches  puberty,  and  the  tali- 
tier  is  her  maternal  uncle's  or  paternal  aunt's  son.  The 
Kaikkaran  invites  at  least  four  headmen  to  be  present, 
and  they  prescribe  the  manner  in  which  the  ceremony  is 
to  be  performed.  The  auspicious  time  for  the  marriage 
celebration  is  fixed  by  a  Kaniyan  (astrologer),  and,  on 
the  day  before  the  wedding,  the  Kaikkaran  invites  the 
Paraiyas  of  the  village  to  be  present  at  the  tunniruttal, 
or  erection  of  the  pandal  (booth).  All  those  who  attend 
are  presented  with  betel,  tobacco,  and  a  liberal  allowance 
of  toddy.  The  next  item  in  the  programme  is  the 
vachchorukkal,  or  placing  beaten  and  cooked  rice,  flowers, 
toddy,  and  other  things  in  the  pandal,  under  the  direction 
of  the  Kaikkaran.  Some  of  the  assembled  males  then 
sing  a  song  called  maranpattu,  or  song  of  the  god  of 
love.  The  bride  then  becomes  inspired,  and  dances, 
while  the  sorcerer  rolls  out  mystic  hymns.  On  the 
following  morning,  the  bridegroom  goes  to  the  home  of 


the  bride  in  procession,  and  is  led  to  a  wooden  seat  in 
the  centre  of  the  pandal,  where  he  is  joined  by  the  bride, 
who  seats  herself  on  his  left.  He  then  ties  the  minnu 
(marriage  badge)  round  her  neck,  and  retires  with  her 
to  the  maniyara,  or  bedroom,  where  they  remain  together 
for  some  minutes.  On  the  final  day  of  the  ceremonies, 
the  bride  is  bathed. 

When  a  Kaikkaran  dies,  a  conch  shell  is  buried  with 
the  corpse.  Once  a  year,  and  on  some  new  moon  day, 
offerings  are  made  to  all  the  deceased  ancestors. 

The  Paraiyas  have  a  dramatic  entertainment  called 
Paraiyan  Kali,  in  which  the  performer  plays  his  part, 
standing  on  a  mortar,  to  the  accompaniment  of  music. 

Paraiyas  are  required  to  keep  at  a  distance  of  128 
feet  from  Brahmans,  i.e.,  double  the  distance  required  of 
a  Pulaya.  But  they  will  not  receive  food  at  the  hands  of 
the  Pulayas. 

In  a  further  note  on  the  "  Paraiya  Caste  in  Travan- 
core,"  the  Rev.  S.  Mateer  writes  as  follows.*  "  They 
were  formerly  bought  and  sold  like  cattle,  starved, 
flogged  *  like  buffaloes,'  made  to  work  all  day  for  a  little 
rice,  and  kept  at  a  distance  as  polluted ;  and  they  still 
are  in  a  position  of  subservience  and  deep  degradation, 
not  vitally  differing  from  that  of  the  Pulayas  and  Vedars. 
One  particular  characteristic  of  this  caste,  and  most  offen- 
sive to  others,  is  that  they  eat  the  flesh  of  bullocks  and 
cows  left  dead  by  the  roadside.  They  cut  it  up,  and 
bear  it  away  ;  what  they  leave  the  vultures  and  dogs 
devour.  This  disgusting  practice  is  to  a  great  extent 
disappearing  among  the  Christian  castes.  The  Paraiyas 
of  Nevandrum  (Trivandrum  ?)  district  live  in  clusters  of 
huts,  and  eat  the  putrid  flesh  of  dead  cattle,  tigers,  and 

»  Journ.  Roy.  As,  Soc,  XVI. 



other  animals.  Their  girls  are  '  married '  when  very- 
young  for  mere  form  to  their  cousins,  but,  when  grown 
up,  are  selected  by  others,  who  give  them  a  cloth,  and 
live  with  them  in  concubinage.  Cases  of  polygamy  occur, 
and  sometimes  also  of  polyandry.  They  eat  the  seed 
of  Ochlandra  Rheedii,  which  abounds  in  an  unusually 
dry  season,  as  does  also  the  bamboo.  Jungle  roots, 
land  crabs,  and  snails  form  part  of  their  food.  Some  of 
them  have  enough  of  rice  at  harvest  time,  but  seldom  at 
any  other  period  of  the  year.  They  are  zealous  devil 
worshippers,  their  chief  demons  being  Madan  (the  cow 
one),  Rathachamandy  Mallan  (the  giant)  and  Muvaratta 
Mallan,  Karunkali  (black  kali),  Chavus  (departed  spirits), 
Bhutham,  Mantramurtti,  and  other  Murttis  (ghosts), 
with  many  other  evil  beings,  to  whom  groves  and  altars 
are  dedicated.  The  souls  of  their  deceased  ancestors 
are  called  Marutta  (ghosts),  for  whose  worship  young 
cocoanut  leaves  are  tied  at  the  bottom  of  a  tree,  and 
a  small  shed  is  erected  on  poles,  and  decorated  with 
garlands  of  flowers.  Presents  of  cocoanuts,  parched 
rice,  and  arrack  are  offered,  and  cocks  killed  in  sacrifice. 
In  the  devil-dancing  they  use  clubs  and  rattans,  bells, 
handkerchiefs,  and  cloths  dedicated  to  their  deities. 
Other  castes  generally  dread  incurring  the  displeasure  and 
malice  of  these  deities.  Sudras  and  Shanars  frequently 
employ  the  Paraiya  devil-dancers  and  sorcerers  to  exor- 
cise demons,  search  for  and  dig  out  magical  charms 
buried  in  the  earth  by  enemies,  and  counteract  their 
enchantments  ;  and,  in  cases  of  sickness,  send  for  them 
to  beat  the  drum,  and  so  discover  what  demon  has 
caused  the  affliction,  and  what  is  to  be  done  to  remove  it. 
Sometimes  a  present  of  a  cow  is  given  for  those  ser- 
vices. These  pretended  sorcerers  are  slightly  acquainted 
with  a  few  medicines,  profess  to  cure  snake-bite,  and  can 


repeat  some  tales  of  the  Hindu  gods.  They  also  profess 
to  discover  thieves,  who  sometimes  indeed  through  fear 
actually  take  ill,  confess,  and  restore  the  property.  One 
priest  whom  I  knew  used  to  pretend  that  he  had  a 
*  bird  devil '  in  his  possession,  by  which  he  could  cast 
out  other  devils.  On  one  occasion,  however,  when  he 
made  the  attempt  in  the  presence  of  a  large  concourse 
of  Sudras  and  others,  he  utterly  failed,  and  hurt  himself 
severely  by  beating  his  chest  with  a  cocoanut  and  leaping 
into  the  fire.  He  soon  after  resolved  to  abandon  this 
course  of  life,  and  became  a  Christian. 

"  After  the  wife's  confinement,  the  husband  is  starved 
for  seven  days,  eating  no  cooked  rice  or  other  food,  only 
roots  and  fruits,  and  drinking  only  arrack  or  toddy.  The 
shed,  in  which  she  was  confined,  is  burnt  down. 

"  In  cases  of  sickness,  the  diviner  is  first  consulted 
as  to  its  cause.  He  names  a  demon,  and  offerings  are 
demanded  of  rice,  fruits,  flowers,  and  fowls.  Being  daily 
supplied  with  these  articles,  the  diviner  spreads  cow- 
dung  thinly  over  a  small  space  in  the  yard,  where  he 
places  the  offerings  on  three  plantain  leaves,  invokes  the 
presence  of  the  demons,  dances  and  repeats  mantras, 
looking  towards  the  east.  He  catches  the  demon  that 
is  supposed  to  come  in  an  old  piece  of  cloth  filled  with 
flowers  and  parched  rice,  and  carries  both  demon  and 
offerings  into  the  jungle,  where,  again  preparing  a  spot 
as  before,  two  torches  are  set,  the  food  arranged,  and, 
after  further  mantras,  a  fowl  is  sacrificed.  He  takes  the 
whole  afterwards  for  himself,  gets  a  good  meal,  and  is 
also  paid  twelve  chuckrams  (small  silver  coins)  for  the 

"In  cases  of  small-pox,  one  who  has  had  this 
disease  is  called  in  to  attend.  He  takes  the  patient  to 
a  temporary  hut  in  a  lonely  place,  and  is  well  paid,  and 


supplied  with  all  that  he  requires.  Through  fear,  none 
of  the  relatives  will  go  near.  Should  the  patient  die, 
the  attendant  buries  him  on  the  spot,  performing  the 
ceremonies  himself,  then  comes  to  the  house,  repeats 
mantras,  and  waves  his  hands  round  the  head  of  each 
to  remove  further  alarm.  If  a  woman  with  child  dies, 
she  is  buried  at  a  great  distance  away.  Occasionally 
the  remains  of  an  aged  man  are  burnt  on  a  funeral  pile, 
as  being  more  honourable  than  burial,  and  providing 
some  merit  to  the  soul. 

**  Let  us  pay  a  visit  to  one  of  the  rural  hamlets  of  the 
Kolam  Paraiyans,  a  considerable  sub-division  of  this 
caste.  The  cattle  manure  is  saved,  but  handed  over  to 
the  Sudra  farmers.  The  Paraiyas  plant  a  few  trees 
around  their  settlement  as  otti  (mortgage)  and  kuri- 
kanam  (a  kind  of  tenant  right),  then  pay  a  sum  to  the 
Sudra  landowner  to  permit  them  to  enjoy  the  produce, 
as  it  is  so  difficult  for  them  to  get  waste  lands  registered 
in  their  own  name.  Some  have  cleared  lands,  and  possess 
a  few  cocoanut  and  betel-nut  palms,  mangoes,  etc.  They 
may  have  a  few  cattle  also,  and  let  out  a  milch  cow  to 
the  shepherds  at  one  rupee  per  month.  They  grow  some 
vegetables,  etc.,  in  waste  valley  lands  temporarily  cleared 
and  cultivated.  They  work  in  the  rice  fields,  sowing, 
planting,  and  reaping,  for  which  they  are  paid  in  paddy. 
During  the  slack  season  they  work  at  making  mats  of 
Ochlandra  Rheedii,  for  which  the  men  bring  loads  of  the 
reeds  from  the  hills,  and  the  women  do  the  work  of 
plaiting.  This  art  they  are  said  to  have  lesirnt  from  the 
Kanikar  hill-men. 

"  Some  Paraiyas  in  Nanjinad  have  enjoyed  ancestral 
property  for  six  generations,  and  a  few  still  have  good 
properties.  Titles  were  purchased  for  money  of  the 
Rajas  of  Travancore,  e.g.,  Sambavan,  an  old  name  for 


Pandi  Paraiyas.  The  Raja  gave  to  such  a  headman  a 
cane,  and  authority  to  claim  a  double  allowance  of  betel, 
etc.  He,  however,  had  in  his  turn  to  give  double  at 
funerals  and  festivals  to  his  visitors.  This  head  Paraiyan 
would  be  met  with  drums  and  marks  of  honour  by  his 
people,  and  the  arrangement  would  enable  the  Govern- 
ment to  rule  the  Paraiyas  more  easily.  It  is  said  that 
some  Raja,  fleeing  in  war,  hid  himself  in  Paraiya  huts  at 
Changankadei,  and  was  thereby  saved,  for  which  he  gave 
them  a  small  grant  of  land  producing  a  few  fanams 
annually,  which  they  still  enjoy.  They  have  a  tradition 
that,  in  M.E.  102  (A.D.  927),  one  Vanji  Mannan  Raja 
granted  privileges  to  Paraiyas.  During  the  war  with 
Tippu,  proclamation  was  made  that  every  Paraiyan  in 
this  district  must  have  a  Nayar  or  master,  and  belong 
to  some  one  or  other.  All  who  were  not  private 
property  would  be  made  slaves  of  the  Sirkar  (Govern- 
ment), which  was  greatly  dreaded  on  account  of  the 
merciless  oppression,  and  obliged  to  cut  grass  for  the 
troops,  and  do  other  services.  Many,  therefore,  became 
nominally  slaves  to  some  respectable  man,  asking  it  as  a 
kindness  to  free  them  from  Government  slavery.  Several 
respectable  families  begged  the  Namburi  high  priest, 
visiting  Suchindram  and  other  temples,  to  call  them  his 
slaves,  for  which  they  paid  him  one  fanam  a  head  per 
annum.  This  payment  is  still  kept  up.  This  priest 
conferred  upon  them  additional  benefits,  for  in  their 
troubles  and  oppressions,  he  wrote  to  the  Government, 
requiring  from  them  justice  and  proper  treatment.  The 
slaves  of  the  Namburi  would  also  be  treated  with 
consideration  on  account  of  his  sacred  position  and 
rank.  These  families,  '  Potty  slaves,'  still  intermarry 
only  among  themselves,  as  in  this  case  the  wife  could  not 
be  claimed  by  a  different  owner  from  the  husband's. 

i'ARAVA  DE\lL-i)A.\CER. 

139  PARAVA 

*'  Lastly,  as  to  the  Paraiyas  of  North  Travancore. 
Their  condition  seems  lowest  of  all,  as  they  enter  further 
into  the  Malayalam  country,  and  enjoy  fewer  opportu- 
nities of  escape  from  caste  degradation  and  from  bitter 
servitude.  '  Their  own  tradition,'  the  Rev.  G.  Matthan 
writes,*  '  has  it  that  they  were  a  division  of  the  Brah- 
mans,  who  were  entrapped  into  a  breach  of  caste  by 
their  enemies,  through  making  them  eat  beef.  They 
eat  carrion  and  other  loathsome  things.  The  carcases  of 
all  domestic  animals  are  claimed  by  them  as  belonging 
to  them  by  right.  They  frequently  poison  cows,  and 
otherwise  kill  them  for  the  sake  of  their  flesh.  They 
are  also  charged  with  kidnapping  women  of  the  higher 
castes,  whom  they  are  said  to  treat  in  the  most  brutal 
manner.  It  is  their  custom  to  turn  robbers  in  the  month 
of  February,  in  which  month  they  pretend  the  wrong  was 
done  them,  to  break  into  the  houses  of  the  Brahmans 
and  Nairs,  and  to  carry  away  their  women,  children,  and 
property,  to  which  they  are  actuated  more  by  motives  of 
revenge  than  of  interest,  and  to  justify  which  they  plead 
the  injury  their  caste  had  received  from  these  parties. 
In  former  times,  they  appear  to  have  been  able  to  per- 
petrate these  cruelties  almost  with  impunity,  from  the 
fear  of  which  the  people  still  betray  great  uneasiness, 
though  the  custom  has  now  grown  into  disuse.' " 

Parasaivan.— A  title  of  Occhans,  who  are  Saivites, 
and  priests  at  temples  of  Grama  Devatas  (village 
deities).  In  the  Malayalam  country  Parasava  occurs  as 
a  title  of  Variyar,  a  section  of  Ambalavasi.  The  word 
indicates  the  son  of  a  Brahman  by  a  Sudra  woman. 

Parava.— The  Tulu-speaking  Paravas  of  South 
Canaraare,  like  the  Nalkes  and  Pombadas,  devil-dancers. 

*  CM.  Record,  1850. 

PAR  A  VAN  140 

and  are  further  employed  in  the  manufacture  of  baskets 
and  umbrellas.  Socially,  they  occupy  a  higher  position 
than  the  Nalkes,  but  rank  below  the  Pombadas.  The 
bhuthas  (devils)  whose  disguise  they  assume  are  Koda- 
manitaya  and  the  Baiderukalu,  who  may  not  be 
represented  by  Nalkes ;  and  they  have  no  objection  to 
putting  on  the  disguise  of  other  bhuthas.  Paravas  are 
engaged  for  all  kinds  of  devil-dances  when  Nalkes  are  not 
available.     {See  Nalke.) 

Paravan.— Concerning  the  origin  of  the  Parava 
fishing  community  of  the  south-east  coast,  the  following 
legends  are  current.*  The  author  of  the  Historia  Ecclesi- 
astica  (published  in  Tamil  at  Tranquebar  in  1 735)  identifies 
them  with  the  Parvaim  of  the  Scriptures,  and  adds  that, 
in  the  time  of  Solomon,  they  were  famous  among  those 
who  made  voyages  by  sea ;  but  it  does  not  appear  that 
there  is  any  solid  foundation  for  this  hypothesis.  It  is 
the  general  belief  among  the  Paravas  that  their  original 
country  was  Ayodhya,  or  Oudh  ;  and  it  appears  that, 
previously  to  the  war  of  Mahabharata,  they  inhabited 
the  territory  bordering  on  the  river  Yamuna  or  Jumna. 
At  present  they  are  chiefly  found  in  the  seaport  towns  of 
the  Tinnevelly  district  in  the  south  of  India,  and  also  in 
some  of  the  provinces  on  the  north-west  coast  of  Ceylon. 
With  regard  to  their  origin,  there  is  a  variety  as  well  as 
discordancy  of  opinions.  Some  of  the  Tantras  represent 
them  to  be  descended  from  a  Brahman  by  a  Sudra 
woman,  while  the  Jatibedi  Nul  (a  work  of  some  celebrity 
among  the  Tamils)  states  them  to  be  the  offspring  of  a 
Kurava  (or  basket-maker)  begotten  clandestinely  on 
a  female  of  the  Chetty  (or  merchant)  tribe.  But  the 
Paravas    have    among    themselves    quite    a    different 

•  Origin  and  History  of  the  Paravas.     Simon  Casie  Chitty.     Journ.  Roy,  As, 
See,  IV,  1837, 



tradition  concerning  their  origin,  which  is  founded  on 
mythological  fable.  They  relate  that  their  progenitors 
were  of  the  race  Varuna  (god  of  the  sea),  and  on  the 
occasion,  when  Siva  had  called  Kartikeya  (god  of 
arms)  into  existence,  for  destroying  the  overwhelming 
power  of  the  Asuras  (evil  spirits),  they  sprang  up  with 
him  from  the  sacred  lake  Sarawana,  and  were  like  him 
nursed  by  the  constellation  Kartika.  At  the  close  of  the 
last  kalpa,  when  the  whole  earth  was  covered  with  a 
deluge,  they  constructed  a  dhoni  or  boat,  and  by  it 
escaped  the  general  destruction  ;  and,  when  dry  land 
appeared,  they  settled  on  the  spot  where  the  dhoni 
rested  ;  hence  it  is  called  Dhonipura,  or  the  city  of  the 
boat.  The  Paravas  were  once  a  very  powerful  people, 
and  no  doubt  derived  much  of  their  ascendancy  over 
other  tribes  from  their  knowledge  of  navigation.  They 
had  a  succession  of  kings  among  them,  distinguished  by 
the  title  of  Adiyarasen,  some  of  whom  seem  to  have 
resided  at  Uttara  Kosamangay,  called  at  that  time  the 
city  of  Mangay,  a  famous  place  of  Hindu  pilgrimage  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  Ramnad.  In  the  Purana  entitled 
Valevisu  Puranam  we  meet  with  the  following  fable. 
Parvati,  the  consort  of  Siva,  and  her  son  Kartikeya, 
having  offended  the  deity  by  revealing  some  ineffable 
mystery,  were  condemned  to  quit  their  celestial  mansions, 
and  pass  through  an  infinite  number  of  mortal  forms, 
before  they  could  be  re-acrriritted  to  the  divine  presence. 
On  the  entreaty  of  Parvati,  however,  they  were  allowed, 
as  a  mitigation  of  the  punishment,  each  to  undergo  but 
one  transmigration.  And,  as  about  this  time,  Triambaka, 
King  of  the  Paravas,  and  Varuna  Valli  his  consort  were 
making  tapas  (acts  of  devotion)  to  obtain  issue,  Par- 
vati condescended  to  be  incarnated  as  their  daughter 
under  the  name  of  Tiryser  Madente.     Her  son  Kartikeya, 


transforming  himself  into  a  fish,  was  roaming  for  some 
time  in  the  north  sea.     It  appears,  however,  that  he  left 
the  north,  and  made  his  way  into  the  south  sea,  where, 
growing  to  an  immense  size,   he  attacked   the  vessels 
employed  by  the  Paravas  in  their  fisheries,  and  threatened 
to  destroy  their  trade.     Whereupon  the  King  Triambaka 
made  a  public  declaration  that  whoever  would  catch  the 
fish  should  have  his  daughter  to  wife.     Siva,  now  assum- 
ing  the    character   of  a  Parava,   caught  the  fish,    and 
became  re-united  to  his  consort.     In  that  section  of  the 
Mahabharata  entitled  Adiparva  it  is  said  that  the  King 
of  the  Paravas,  who  resided  on  the  banks  of  the  Jumna, 
having    found   an    infant   girl    in    the    belly   of  a   fish, 
adopted  her  as  his  own  daughter,  giving  her  the  name 
of  Machchakindi,  and  that,  when  she  grew  up,  she  was 
employed,  as  was  customary  with   the   females    of  the 
Parava  tribe,  to  ferry  passengers  over  the  river.     On  a 
certain  day,  the  sage  Parasara  having  chanced  to  meet 
her  at  the  ferry,  she  became  with  child  by  him,  and  was 
subsequently  delivered  of  a  son,  the  famous  Vyasa  who 
composed  the    Puranas.     Her   great    personal    charms 
afterwards  induced   King  Santanu  of  the   lunar  race  to 
admit  her  to  his  royal  bed,  and  by  him  she  became  the 
mother  of  Vichitravlrya,  the  grandsire  of  the  Pandavas 
and    Kauravas,    whose    contentions    for   the    throne   of 
Hastinapura    form    the    subject    of  the    Mahabharata. 
Hence  the  Paravas  boast  of  being  allied  to    the  lunar 
race,  and  call  themselves  accoidingly,  besides  displaying 
at  their  wedding  feasts  the  banners  and  emblems  peculiar 
to  it.     In  the   drama   of  Alliarasany,  who  is   supposed 
to  have  resided  at  Kudremalle  on  the  north-west  coast 
of  Ceylon,   the  Paravas  act  a  conspicuous  part.     We 
find  them  employed  by  the  princess  in  fishing  for  pearls 
off  the  coast,  and  that  under  a  severe  penalty  they  were 


obliged  to  furnish  her  with  ten  kalams  of  pearls  every 

It  is  noted,  in  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  that 
"  there  are  in  reality  three  castes  which  answer  to  the 
name  Paravan,  and  which  speak  Tamil,  Malayalam,  and 
Canarese  respectively.  Probably  all  three  are  descended 
from  the  Tamil  Paravans  or  Paratavans.  The  Tamil 
Paravans  are  fishermen  on  the  sea  coast.  Their  head- 
quarters isTuticorin,  and  their  headman  is  called  Talavan. 
They  are  mostly  Native  Christians.  They  claim  to 
be  Kshatriyas  of  the  Pandyan  line  of  kings,  and  will 
eat  only  in  the  houses  of  Brahmans.  The  Malayalam 
Paravans  are  shell  collectors,  lime  burners  and  gymnasts, 
and  their  women  act  as  midwives.  Their  titles  are 
Kurup,  Varakurup,  and  Nurankurup  (nuru,  lime).  The 
Canarese  Paravas  are  umbrella-makers  and  devil- 
dancers."  It  has  been  suggested  that  the  west  coast 
Paravas  are  the  descendants  of  those  who  fled  from 
Tinnevelly,  in  order  to  avoid  the  oppression  of  the 
M  uhammadans. 

In  the  Census  Report,  1871,  the  Paravas  are  sum- 
med up  as  being  a  fishing  caste  on  the  Madura  and 
Tinnevelly  coast,  who  "  were  found  by  the  Portuguese, 
on  their  arrival  in  India,  to  be  groaning  under  the 
Muhammadan  yoke,  and  were  assisted  by  the  Portuguese 
on  condition  of  their  becoming  Christians.  This  general 
conversion,  for  political  ends,  explains  why  the  fishing 
population  of  the  present  day  along  the  south-east  coast 
is  to  a  considerable  extent  Roman  Catholic."  It  is 
noted  by  Mr.  S.  P.  Rice  *  that  the  fishermen  "  who  live 
in  the  extreme  south  are  devout  Catholics,  and  have 
preserved  the  Portuguese  names  by  which  their  fathers 

*  Occasional  Essays  on  Native  South  Indian  Life,  1901. 

PAR  A  VAN  144 

were  baptized  into  the  Church,  so  that,  incongruous  as  it 
sounds,  Jose  Fernandez  and  Maria  Santiago  are  but 
humble  folk,  catching  fish  in  a  primitive  way,  with  no 
more  clothing  on  than  a  small  loin  cloth  and  a  picture 
of  the  Virgin." 

Concerning  the  Paravas,  Baldaeus  *  writes  as  follows. 
"  The  kingdom  of  Trevancor  borders  upon  that  of 
Coulang  :  All  along  the  Sea-shore  inhabit  the  Paruas, 
who  being  for  the  most  part  Christians,  you  see  the 
Shore  all  along  as  far  as  Comoryn,  and  even  beyond  it  to 
Tutecoryn,  full  of  little  Churches,  some  of  Wood,  others 
of  Stone.  These  People  owe  their  Conversion  to 
Franciscus  Xaverius,  he  being  the  first  who  planted  the 
Principles  of  Christianity  among  them  ;  they  being  so 
much  taken  with  the  reasonableness  of  the  Ten  Command- 
ments, that  they  receiv'd  Baptism  in  great  numbers,  tho 
an  accidental  Quarrel  between  a  Parua  and  a  Mahometan 

prov'd  a  strong  Motive  to  their  Conversion 

The  Paruas  being  sorely  oppress'd  by  the  Mahometans, 
one  John  de  Crus,  a  Native  of  Malabar,  but  who  had  been 
in  Portugal,  and  honourably  treated  by  John,  the  then 
king  of  Portugal,  advised  them  to  seek  for  Aid  at  Cochin 
against  the  Moors,  and  to  receive  Baptism.  Accordingly 
some  of  the  chief  Men  among  them  (call'd  Patangatays 
in  their  Language)  were  sent  upon  that  Errand  to 
Cochin,  where  being  kindly  receiv'd,  they  (in  honour  of 
him  who  had  given  His  Advice)  took  upon  them  the 
Sirname  of  Crus,  a  name  still  retain'd  by  most  Persons 
of  Note  among  the  Paruas.  In  short,  being  deliver 'd 
from  the  Moorish  Yoke,  and  the  Pearl-fishery  (which 
formerly  belong'd  to  them)  restor'd  to  the  right  Owners, 
above  20,000  of  them  receiv'd  Baptism." 

*  A  description  of  ye  East  India  Coasts  of  Malabar  and  Coromandel,  1703. 

145  PARA  VAN 

"The     commencement    of    the     Roman     Catholic 
Mission  in  Tinnevelly,"  Bishop  Caldwell  writes,*  "  dates 
from  1532,  when  certain  Paravas,  representatives  of  the 
Paravas  or  fishing  caste,  visited  Cochin  for  the  purpose 
of  supplicating  the  aid  of  the  Portuguese  against  their 
Muhammadan  oppressors,   and  were  baptized  there  by 
Michael  Vaz,  Vicar-General  of  the  Bishop  of  Goa.     The 
same  ecclesiastic,  with  other  priests,  accompanied  the 
fleet   which   sailed    for   the   purpose  of  chastising   the 
Muhammadans,  and,  as  soon  as  that  object  was  accom- 
plished, set  about  baptizing  the  Paravas  all  along  the 
coast,  in  accordance    with  the  agreement    into  which 
their  representatives  had  entered.      The  entire  Parava 
caste  adopted  the  religion  of  their  Portuguese  deliverers 
and  most  of  them  received  baptism.     Some,  however, 
did  not  receive  baptism  for  some  cause  till  Xavier's  time, 
ten   years   afterwards.     Xavier,    on   his  arrival   in  the 
south,  could  not  speak  Tamil,  and  spent  some  months 
in   committing   to   memory    Tamil    translations   of  the 
Creed,  Lord's  Prayer,  Ave  Maria,  and  Decalogue.     He 
then  proceeded  to  visit  all  the  villages  of  the  coast,  bell 
in  hand,  to  collect  the  inhabitants,  and  gave  them  Chris- 
tian   instruction.     The    Paravas    thus    christianised — 
called  generally  at  that  time  the   Comorin   Christians 
— inhabited  thirty  villages,  and   numbered,  according  to 
the   most    credible    account,    twenty    thousand    souls. 
These  villages  extended  all  the  way  along  the  coast  at 
irregular   intervals   from   Cape   Comorin  to  the   island 
promontory  of  Ramesvaram,  if  not  beyond.     It  does  not 
appear  that  any  village  in  the  interior  joined  in  the 
movement."     "  It  appears,"    Mr.    Casie  Chitty  states, 
*'  that  the   Portuguese  treated  the   Paravas  with  great 

*  History  of  Tinnevelly. 


kindness,  permitted  intermarriages,  and  even  allowed 
them  to  assume  their  surnames,  so  that  we  find  among 
them  many  Da  Limas,  Da  Cruzs,  Da  Andrados,  Da 
Canhas,  etc.  They  gave  the  chief  of  the  Paravas  the 
title  of  Dom,  and  allowed  him  the  exclusive  right  of 
wearing  a  gold  chain  with  a  cross  as  a  badge  of  nobility. 
[The  name  of  a  recent  hereditary  chief  or  Jati  Talaivan 
or  Talaivamore  of  the  Paravas  was  Gabriel  de  Cruz 
Lazarus  Motha  Vas.]  As  soon  as  the  Dutch  took 
possession  of  Tutocoryn  (Tuticorin)  and  other  adjacent 
towns  where  the  Paravas  are  found,  they  employed  Dr. 
Baldaeus  and  a  few  other  ministers  of  their  persuasion 
to  suppress  the  Roman  Catholic  faith,  and  to  persuade 
the  Paravas  to  adopt  their  own  in  its  stead  ;  but  in  this 
they  met  with  a  total  failure,  and  were  once  very  nearly 
bringing  on  a  general  revolt.  Notwithstanding  the 
intolerance  of  the  Dutch  with  regard  to  the  Romish 
Church,  the  Paravas  still  remember  them  with  gratitude, 
as  they  afforded  them  the  means  of  extensive  livelihood 
by  establishing  in  their  principal  town  (Tutocoryn)  a 
public  manufactory  of  cloth,  and  thus  maintaining  a 
considerable  working  capital." 

Concerning  the  history  of  the  Paravas,  and  their 
connection  with  the  pearl-fisheries  on  the  Indian 
side  of  the  Gulf  of  Manaar,  much  information  is  given 
by  Mr.  J.  Hornell,*  from  whose  account  the  following 
extracts  are  taken.  "  When  the  Portuguese  rounded 
Cape  Comorin,  they  found  the  pearl  fisheries  of  the 
Gulf  of  Manaar  in  the  hands  of  the  Paravas,  whom 
tradition  shows  to  have  had  control  of  this  industry 
from  time  immemorial.  Of  the  origin  of  these  people 
we  know  extremely  little.     We  know,  however,   that  in 

♦  Report  on  the  Indian  Pearl  Fisheries  in  the  Gulf  of  Manaar,  1905. 


the  old  days,  from  600  B.C.  and  for  1,500  years  or 
more  thereafter,  the  country  now  comprehended  in 
the  districts  of  Madura  and  Tinnevelly  formed  the  great 
Tamil  kingdom  of  Pandya.  And,  in  the  old  Tamil 
work  called  the  Kalveddu,  the  position  of  the  pearl- 
fishing  caste  to  this  monarchy  is  incidentally  mentioned 
in  the  following  extract :  '  Vidanarayanen  Cheddi  and 
the  Paravu  men  who  fished  pearls  by  paying  tribute  to 
Alliyarasani,  daughter  of  Pandya,  king  of  Madura,  who 
went  on  a  voyage,  experienced  bad  weather  in  the  sea, 
and  were  driven  to  the  shores  of  Lanka,  where  they 
founded  Karainerkai  and  Kutiraimalai.  Vidanarayanen 
Cheddi  had  the  treasures  of  his  ship  stored  there  by  the 
Paravas,  and  established  pearl  fisheries  at  Kadalihilapam 
and  Kallachihilapam,  and  introduced  the  trees  which 
change  iron  into  gold.'  In  the  Maduraik-kanchi  the 
Paravas  are  described  as  being  most  powerful  in  the 
country  round  Korkai.  *  Well  fed  on  fish  and  armed  with 
bows,  their  hordes  terrified  their  enemies  by  their  dash- 
ing valour.'  The  Maduraik-kanchi  describes  Korkai  as 
the  chief  town  in  the  country  of  Parathavar  and  the  seat 
of  the  pearl  fishery,  with  a  population  consisting  chiefly 
of  pearl  divers  and  chank  cutters.*  When  the  Pandyan 
kingdom  was  powerful,  the  Paravas  had  grants  of  certain 
rights  from  the  monarchy,  paying  tribute  from  the 
produce  of  the  fisheries,  and  receiving  protection  and 
immunity  from  taxation  in  return.  The  conditions 
under  which  the  Paravas  lived  at  the  opening  of  the 
sixteenth  century  are  graphically  set  forth  in  a  report, 
dated  19th  December,  1669,  written  by  Van  Reede  and 
Laurens  Pyh,  respectively  Commandant  of  the  coast  of 
Malabar  and  Canara  and  senior  merchant  and  Chief  of 

*  Shell  of  the  gastropod  mollusc,  Turbinella  rapa. 

PARA  VAN  148 

the  sea-ports  of  Madura.  Under  the  protection  of  those 
Rajas  there  lived  a  people,  which  had  come  to  these 
parts  from  other  countries  * — they  are  called  Paravas — 
they  lived  a  seafaring  life,  gaining  their  bread  by  fishing 
and  by  diving  for  pearls ;  they  had  purchased  from  the 
petty  Rajas  small  streaks  of  the  shore,  along  which  they 
settled  and  built  villages,  and  they  divided  themselves 
as  their  numbers  progressively  increased.  In  these 
purchased  lands  they  lived  under  the  rule  of  their  own 
headmen,  paying  to  the  Rajas  only  an  annual  present, 
free  from  all  other  taxes  which  bore  upon  the  natives  so 
heavily,  looked  upon  as  strangers,  exempt  from  tribute 
or  subjection  to  the  Rajas,  having  a  chief  of  their  own 
election,  whose  descendants  are  still  called  kings  of  the 
Paravas,  and  who  drew  a  revenue  from  the  whole  people, 
which  in  process  of  time  has  spread  itself  from  Quilon  to 
Bengal.  Their  importance  and  power  have  not  been 
reduced  by  this  dispersion,  for  they  are  seen  at  every 
pearl  fishery  (on  which  occasions  the  Paravas  assemble 
together)  surpassing  in  distinction,  dignity  and  outward 
honours  all  other  persons  there.  The  pearl  fishery  was 
the  principal  resource  and  expedient  from  which  the 
Paravas  obtained  a  livelihood,  but  as  from  their  residence 
so  near  the  sea  they  had  no  manner  of  disposing  of 
their  pearls,  they  made  an  agreement  with  the  Rajas 
that  a  market  day  should  be  proclaimed  throughout 
their  dominions,  when  merchants  might  securely  come 
from  all  parts  of  India,  and  at  which  the  divers  and 
sutlers  necessary  to  furnish  provisions  for  the  multi- 
tude might  also  meet ;  and,  as  this  assemblage  would 
consist  of  two  different  races,  namely,  the  Paravas  and 

•  "This,"  Mr.  Hornell  writes,  "  is  most  improbable.  They  are  more 
probably  the  descendants  of  Naga  fishermen  settled  in  the  district  prior  to  the 
immigration  of  Tamil  invaders." 

149  PAR  A  VAN 

subjects  of  the  Rajas,  as  well  as  strangers  and  travellers, 
two  kinds  of  guards  and  tribunals  were  to  be  established 
to  prevent  all  disputes  and  quarrels  arising  during  this 
open  market,  every  man  being  subject  to  his  own  judge, 
and  his  case  being  decided  by  him  ;  all  payments  were 
then  also  divided  among  the  headmen  of  the  Paravas, 
who  were  the  owners  of  that  fishery,  and  who  hence 
became  rich  and  powerful  ;  they  had  weapons  and 
soldiers  of  their  own,  with  which  they  were  able  to 
defend  themselves  against  the  violence  of  the  Rajas  or 
their  subjects.  The  Moors  who  had  spread  themselves 
over  India,  and  principally  along  the  coasts  of  Madura, 
were  strengthened  by  the  natives  professing  Muhammad- 
anism,  and  by  the  Arabs,  Saracens,  and  the  privateers 
of  the  Sammoryn,*  and  they  began  also  to  take  to  pearl- 
diving  as  an  occupation,  but  being  led  away  by  ill-feeling 
and  hope  of  gain,  they  often  attempted  to  outreach  the 
Paravas,  some  of  whom  even  they  gained  to  their  party 
and  to  their  religion,  by  which  means  they  obtained  so 
much  importance,  that  the  Rajas  joined  themselves  to 
the  Moors,  anticipating  great  advantages  from  the  trade 
which  they  carried  on,  and  from  their  power  at  sea ;  and 
thus  the  Paravas  were  oppressed,  although  they  fre- 
quently rose  against  their  adversaries,  but  they  always 
got  the  worst  of  it,  until  at  last  in  a  pearl  fishery  at 
Tutucoryn,  having  purposely  raised  a  dispute,  they  fell 
upon  the  Moors,  and  killed  some  thousands  of  them, 
burnt  their  vessels,  and  remained  masters  of  the  country, 
though  much  in  fear  that  the  Moors,  joined  by  the 
pirates  of  Calicut,  would  rise  against  them  in  revenge. 
The  Portuguese  arrived  about  this  time  with  one  ship 
at  Tutucoryn  ;  the  Paravas  requested  them  for  assistance, 

*  The  Zamorin  of  Calicut. 

PARA VAN  150 

and  obtained  a  promise  of  it,  on  conditions  that  they 
should  become  Christians  ;  this  they  generally  agreed  to, 
and,  having  sent  Commissioners  with  some  of  the  Portu- 
guese to  Goa,  they  were  received  under  the  protection 
of  that  nation,  and  their  Commissioners  returned  with 
priests,  and  a  naval  force  conveying  troops,  on  which  all 
the  Paravas  of  the  seven  ports  were  baptized,  accepted 
as  subjects  of  the  King  of  Portugal,  and  they  dwindled 
thus  from  having  their  own  chiefs  and  their  own  laws 
into  subordination  to  priests  and  Portuguese,  who  how- 
ever settled  the  rights  and  privileges  of  the  Paravas 
so  firmly  that  the  Rajas  no  longer  dared  interfere  with 
them,  or  attempt  to  impede  or  abridge  their  prerogative  ; 
on  the  contrary  they  were  compelled  to  admit  of  sepa- 
rate laws  for  the  Paravas  from  those  which  bound  their 
own  subjects.  The  Portuguese  kept  for  themselves  the 
command  at  sea,  the  pearl  fisheries,  the  sovereignty  over 
the  Paravas,  their  villages  and  harbours,  whilst  the 
Naick  of  Madura,  who  was  a  subject  of  the  King  of  the 
Carnatic,  made  himself  master  at  this  time  of  the  lands 
about  Madura,  and  in  a  short  time  afterwards  of  all  the 
lower  countries  from  Cape  Comoryn  to  Tanjore,  expel- 
ling and  rooting  out  all  the  princes  and  land  proprietors, 
who  were  living  and  reigning  there ;  but,  on  obtaining 
the  sovereignty  of  all  these  countries,  he  wished  to 
subject  the  Paravas  to  his  authority,  in  which  attempt 
he  was  opposed  by  the  Portuguese,  who  often,  not  being 
powerful  enough  effectually  to  resist,  left  the  land  with 
the  priests  and  Paravas,  and  went  to  the  islands  of 
Manaar  and  Jaffnapatam,  from  whence  they  sent  coasting 
vessels  along  the  Madura  shores,  and  caused  so  much 
disquiet  that  the  revenue  was  ruined,  trade  circumscribed, 
and  almost  annihilated,  for  which  reasons  the  Naick 
himself  was  obliged  to  solicit  the  Portuguese  to  come 


back  again.  The  Political  Government  of  India,  per- 
ceiving the  great  benefit  of  the  pearl  fishery,  appointed 
in  the  name  of  the  King  of  Portugal  military  chiefs  and 
captains  to  superintend  it,  leaving  the  churches  and  their 
administration  to  the  priests.  Those  captains  obtained 
from  the  fisheries  each  time  a  profit  of  6,000  rix-dollars 
for  the  king,  leaving  the  remainder  of  the  income  from 
them  for  the  Paravas ;  but,  seeing  they  could  not  retain 
their  superiority  in  that  manner  over  the  people,  which 
was  becoming  rich,  luxurious,  drunken,  with  prosperity, 
and  with  the  help  of  the  priests,  who  protected  them, 
threatening  the  captains,  which  often  occasioned  great 
disorders,  the  latter  determined  to  build  a  fort  for  the 
king  at  Tutucoryn,  which  was  the  chief  place  of  all  the 
villages  ;  but  the  priests  who  feared  by  this  to  lose  much 
of  their  consequence  as  well  as  of  their  revenue,  insisted 
that,  if  such  a  measure  was  proceeded  with,  they  would 
all  be  ruined,  on  which  account  they  urged  on  the  people 
to  commit  irregularities,  and  made  the  Paravas  fear  that 
the  step  was  a  preliminary  one  to  the  making  all  of  them 
slaves  ;  and  they  therefore  raised  such  hindrances  to  the 
work  that  it  never  could  be  completed. 

"The  Paravas,"  Mr.  Hornell  continues,  "although 
the  original  holders  of  the  fishery  rights,  had  begun, 
prior  to  the  arrival  of  the  Portuguese,  to  feel  the  com- 
petition of  the  restless  Muhammadan  settlers  on  the 
coast,  who,  coming,  as  many  must  have  done,  from  the 
coast  of  the  Persian  Gulf,  knew  already  all  there  was  to 
know  of  pearl-fishing.  The  descendants  of  these  Arabs 
and  their  proselytes,  known  as  Moros  to  the  Portuguese, 
are  the  Moormen  or  Lubbais  of  to-day.  Their  chief 
settlement  was  Kayal,  a  town  situated  near  the  mouth 
of  the  river  Tambrapurni,  and  which  in  Marco  Polo's 
time  (1290-91)  was  a  great  and  noble  city.     It  shared 

PARA  VAN  152 

with  Tuticorin  for  fully  500  years  the  honour  of  being 
one  of  the  two  great  pearl  markets  of  the  coast — the  one 
being  the  Moor,  the  other  the  Parava,  head-quarters  . 
.  .  .  Menezes,  writing  in  1622,  states  that  for  many 
years  the  fisheries  had  become  extinct  because  of  the 
great  poverty  into  which  the  Paravas  had  fallen.  Tuti- 
corin, and  the  sovereignty  of  the  pearl  banks  and  of  the 
Paravas,  passed  to  the  Dutch  in  1658. 

In  the  report  of  the  pearl  fishery,  1708,  the  following 
entries  occur  in  the  list  of  free  stones  according  to 
ancient  customs  : — 

96J    to    the    Naick   of    Madura — 4    Xtian,    92J 
Moorish ; 

10    to   Head   Moorman  of  Cailpatnam — 5  Xtian, 
5  Moorish. 

60  to  Theuver — 60  Moorish. 

185  to  the  Pattangatyns  of  this  coast — all  Xtian 

"The  185  stones,"  Mr.  Hornell  writes,  "given  to 
the  Pattangatyns  or  headmen  of  the  Paravas  was  in  the 
nature  of  remuneration  to  these  men  for  assistance  in 
inspecting  the  banks,  in  guarding  any  oyster  banks 
discovered,  in  recruiting  divers,  and  in  superintending 
operations  during  the  course  of  the  fishery  .... 
In  1889,  the  Madras  Government  recorded  its  appre- 
ciation of  the  assistance  rendered  by  the  Jati  Talaivan, 
and  directed  that  his  privilege  of  being  allowed  the  take 
of  two  boats  be  continued.  Subsequently,  in  1891,  the 
Government,  while  confirming  the  general  principle  of 
privilege  remuneration  to  the  Jati  Talaivan,  adopted  the 
more  satisfactory  regulation  of  placing  the  extent  of  the 
remuneration  upon  the  basis  of  a  sliding  scale,  allowing 
him  but  one  boat  when  the  Government  boats  numbered 
30  or  less,  two  for  31  to  60  boats,  three  for   61  to  90 


boats  employed,  and  so  on  in  this  ratio.  The  value  of 
the  Jati  Talaivan's  two  privilege  boats  in  the  1890 
fishery  was  Rs.  1,424,  in  that  of  1900  only  Rs.  172," 
The  Jadi  Talaivan  is  said  to  have  been  denominated  by 
the  Dutch  the  prince  of  the  seven  havens.  It  is  noted 
in  the  pearl  fishery  report,  1900,  that  "  the  Paravas  are 
a  constant  source  of  trouble,  both  on  the  banks  and  in 
the  kottoo  (shed),  where  they  were  constantly  being 
caught  concealing  oysters,  which  of  course  were  always 
confiscated.  Only  one  Arab  was  caught  doing  this,  and 
his  companions  abused  him  for  disgracing  them." 

According  to   Mr.    Casie    Chitty,   the    Paravas   are 
divided  into  thirteen  classes ,  viz.  : — 


Dealers  in  cloth. 

Divers  for  corals. 


Divers  for  pearl-oysters. 

Divers  for  chanks. 

Packers  of  cloth. 

Fishers  who  catch  tortoises  (turtles). 

Fishers  who  catch  porpoises. 

Fishers  who  catch  sharks  and  other  fish. 

Palanquin  bearers. 

Peons,  who  wait  about  the  person  of  the  Chief. 

Fishers,  who  catch  crabs. 
It  is  noted  by  Canon  A.  Margoschis  that  the  Parava 
females  are  famous  for  the  excessive  dilatation  of  the 
lobes  of  the  ears,  and  for  wearing  therein  the  heaviest' 
and  most  expensive  gold  ear  jewels  made  of  sovereigns. 
Ordinary  jewels  are  said  to  cost  Rs.  200,  but  heavy 
jewels  are  worth  Rs.  1,000  and  even  more.  The  longer 
the  ears,  the  more  jewels  can  be  used,  and  this  appears 
to  be  the  rationale  of  elongated  ears. 


In  a  recent  account  of  a  Parava  wedding  in  high  life, 
I  read*  that  "  the  bride  and  bridegroom  proceeded  to 
the  church  at  the  head  of  an  imposing  procession,  with 
music  and  banners.  The  service,  which  was  fully  choral, 
was  conducted  by  a  priest  from  their  own  community, 
after  which  the  newly  wedded  couple  went  in  procession 
to  the  residence  of  the  Jati  Talavamore,  being  escorted 
by  their  distinguished  host  in  person.  The  Jati  Talava- 
more, who  wore  a  picturesque,  if  somewhat  antiquated, 
robe,  rode  in  a  gorgeously  upholstered  palanquin,  with 
banners,  trophies,  elephants,  and  other  emblems  of  his 
high  office.  The  bride,  who  was  resplendent  with 
diamonds,  was  becomingly  attired  in  a  purple  Benares 
sari  with  gold  floral  designs,  and  wore  a  superb  kincob 

In  a  note  on  the  Para  vans  of  Travancore,  Mr.  N. 
Subramani  Aiyar  writes  that  "  they  are  found  in  most 
taluks  of  the  State.  The  title  sometimes  used  by  them 
is  Kuruppu.  The  Paravans  of  Chengannur  and  Tiru- 
vella  call  themselves  Chakka,  a  word  supposed  by  the 
castemen  to  be  derived  from  slaghya  or  praiseworthy, 
but  perhaps  more  correctly  from  Chakku,  the  basket 
carried  by  them  in  their  hands.  The  Paravans  are 
divided  into  numerous  sections.  In  the  south,  the 
Tamil-speaking  division  follows  the  makkathayam,  while 
all  the  Malayalam-speaking  sections  follow  the  maru- 
makathayam  law  of  inheritance.  There  is  also  a 
difference  in  the  dress  and  ornaments  of  the  two  sections, 
the  former  adopting  the  fashion  of  the  east  coast,  and 
the  latter  that  of  the  west.  The  Travancore  Paravas 
are  really  one  with  the  Tamil-speaking  Paravas  of  the 
east  coast.     While  most  of  them  became  converts   to 

*  Madras  Mail,  1907. 


Christianity,  in  Travancore  they  have  tried  to  preserve 
their  separate  existence,  as  they  had  already  spread 
into  the  interior  of  the  country  before  the  proselytism 
of  St.  Xavier  had  made  its  enduring  mark  on  the  sea- 
coast  villages.  There  is  a  curious  legend  about  the 
settlement  of  the  Chakkas  in  Central  Travancore. 
Formerly,  it  would  appear,  they  were  Sudras,  but,  for 
some  social  offence  committed  by  them,  they  were  out- 
casted  by  the  Edappalli  chieftain.  They  were  once 
great  devotees  of  Sri  Krishna,  the  lord  of  Tiruvaran- 
mulai  in  the  Tiruvella  taluk.  The  Paravas  say  further 
that  they  are  descended  from  a  high-caste  woman  married 
to  an  Izhava.  The  word  Parava  is  accordingly  derived 
from  para,  which  in  Sanskrit  means  foreign.  The 
Paravas  engage  in  various  occupations,  of  which  the 
most  important  in  Central  Travancore  are  climbing  palm 
trees,  catching  fish,  and  washing  clothes  for  Christians, 
Muhammadans,  and  depressed  classes  of  Hindus.  In 
South  Travancore  they  make  wicker  baskets,  rattan 
chairs,  and  sofas.  Women,  in  all  parts  of  the  State,  are 
lime  and  shell  burners.  They  worship  at  the  Aranmula 
temple,  and  pay  special  worship  to  Bhadrakali.  Their 
priest  is  known  as  Parakuruppu,  who,  having  to  perform 
four  different  functions,  is  also  entitled  Nalonnukaran. 
It  is  his  duty  to  preside  at  marriage  and  other  rites,  to 
be  caste  barber,  to  carry  the  news  of  death  to  the  rela- 
tions, and  to  perform  the  priestly  functions  at  funerals. 
The  Paravas  perform  both  the  tali-kettu  and  samban- 
dham  ceremonies." 

Parel  Maddiyala. — Barbers  of  the  Billavas. 

Parenga.^A  sub-division  of  Gadaba. 

Pariah.— 5^^  Paraiyan. 

Parikimuggula.— Professional  tattooing  women  in 
the  Telugu  country.     The  name  refers  to  the  patterns 

PARI  VARA  156 

(parika  or  muggu),  which  they  carry  about  with  them, 
as  designs  for  tattooing  or  to  be  drawn  on  the  floor  on 
occasions  of  festival  and  ceremonial. 

Parivara.^A  sub-division  of  Bant. 

Parivaram.— It  is  noted,  in  the  Census  Report, 
1 89 1,  that  "this  is  a  caste,  which  presents  some 
difficulty.  Parivaram  means  '  an  army,  a  retinue,'  and 
it  is  alleged  that  the  people  of  this  caste  were  formerly 
soldiers.  Parivaram  is  found  as  a  sub-division  of  Mara- 
van  and  Agamudaiyan,  and  the  Parivaras  of  Madura 
and  Tinnevelly  are  probably  either  a  sub-division  or  an 
offshoot  of  the  Mara  vans.  In  Coimbatore,  the  only 
other  district  in  which  the  Parivaras  are  numerous,  they 
seem  to  be  a  sub-division  of  Toreyas,  a  fishing  caste, 
and  Mr.  Rice,  in  his  Gazetteer  (of  Mysore),  says  that 
Parivara  is  a  synonym  of  Besta."  Further,  in  the  Census 
Report,  1 90 1,  it  is  stated  that  "the  word  Parivaram 
means  *  a  retinue,'  and  was  probably  originally  only  an 
occupational  term.  It  is  now-a-days  applied  to  the 
domestic  servants  and  the  Tottiya  zamindars  in  the 
districts  of  Coimbatore,  Trichinopoly,  Madura,  and 
Tinnevelly,  who  are  recruited  from  several  castes,  but 
have  come  to  form  a  caste  by  themselves.  The  Kotaris 
of  South  Canara  are  a  somewhat  parallel  case,  and 
probably  in  time  the  Paiks  among  the  Oriyas,  and  the 
Khasas,  who  are  servants  to  the  Telugu  zamindars,  will 
similarly  develop  into  separate  castes.  The  caste  is 
said  to  require  all  its  members  of  both  sexes  to  do  such 
service  for  its  masters  as  they  may  require.  Persons  of 
any  caste  above  the  Paraiyas  are  admitted  into  its  ranks, 
and  the  men  in  it  may  marry  a  woman  of  any  other 
caste  with  the  permission  of  the  zamindar  under  whom 
they  serve.  They  do  not  habitually  employ  Brahmans 
as  priests,  and  in  places  the  head  of  the  Tottiyan  caste 


conducts  their  ceremonies.  Their  titles  are  Maniya- 
garan  and  Servaigaran.  The  latter  is  also  used  by  the 

The  title  Servaigaran  or  Servaikaran  indicates  that 
members  of  the  caste  do  servai,  or  service,  and  the 
further  title  uliyakkaran  is  a  sign  that  they  do  uliyam, 
or  menial  work.  Servaikaran  is  also  a  title  of  the  Tamil 
Ambalakarans,  Agamudaiyans,  Kalians,  and  Maravans, 
and  the  Canarese  Toreyas,  some  of  whom  have  settled 
in  the  Tamil  districts  of  Madura  and  Coimbatore.  It 
also  occurs  as  a  synonym  of  the  Canarese  Kotegaras. 

The  illegitimate  offspring  of  Maravans,  Kalians,  and 
Agamudaiyans,  are  said  to  become  members  of  the 
mixed  Parivaram  caste. 

It  is  recorded,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the  Madura 
district,  that  the  Parivaram  caste  "  is  divided  into  two 
endogamous  sections  ;  the  Chinna  Uliyam  (little  services) 
who  are  palanquin-bearers,  and  have  the  title  Tevan, 
and  the  Periya  Uliyam  (big  services),  who  are  called 
Maniyakaran.  The  Kombai  Parivarams,  who  are  the 
servants  of  the  Kappiliyan  Zamindars  of  Kombai  and 
Tevaram  in  the  Periyakulam  taluk,  are  a  separate 
community,  and  do  not  intermarry  with  the  others. 
When  a  girl  attains  maturity,  she  is  kept  for  sixteen 
days  in  a  hut,  which  is  guarded  at  night  by  her  relations. 
This  is  afterwards  burnt  down,  and  the  pots  she  used 
are  broken  into  very  small  pieces,  as  there  is  an  idea 
that,  if  rain-water  collects  in  any  of  them,  the  girl  will 
be  childless.  Some  of  the  ceremonies  at  weddings  are 
unusual.  On  the  first  day,  a  man  takes  a  big  pot  of 
water  with  a  smaller  empty  pot  on  top  of  it,  and  marches 
three  times  round  the  open  space  in  front  of  the  bride's 
house.  With  him  march  the  happy  couple  carrying  a 
bamboo,  to  which  are  tied  in  a  turmeric-coloured  cloth 


the  nine  kinds  of  grain.  After  the  third  journey  round, 
these  things  are  put  down  at  the  north-east  corner,  and 
the  marriage  pandal  is  made  by  bringing  three  more 
poles  of  the  same  size.  Afterwards  the  wrists  of  the 
couple  are  tied  together,  and  bridegroom's  brother 
carries  the  pair  a  short  distance.  They  plunge  their 
hands  into  a  bowl  of  salt.  Next  the  husband  takes  an 
ordinary  stone  rolling-pin,  wraps  it  in  a  bit  of  cloth,  and 
gives  it  to  his  wife,  saying  *  Take  the  child ;  I  am 
going  to  the  palace.*  She  takes  it,  replying  '  Yes,  give 
me  the  child,  the  milk  is  ready.'  This  has  to  be  re- 
peated three  times  in  a  set  formula.  Several  other  odd 
rites  are  observed.  Brahmans  officiate,  and  the  bride- 
groom's sister,  as  usual,  ties  the  tali.  Divorce  is  allowed 
to  both  sides.  Adultery  within  the  caste,  or  with  the 
Zamindar,  is  tolerated.  The  husbands  accept  as  their 
own  any  children  their  wives  may  bear  to  the  Zamindar. 
Such  children  are  called  Chinna  Kambalattar,  and  may 
marry  with  Tottiyans.  But  adultery  outside  the  caste 
is  most  rigorously  prohibited,  and  sternly  punished  with 
excommunication.  A  mud  image  of  the  girl  who  so 
offends  is  made,  two  thorns  are  poked  into  its  eyes,  and 
it  is  thrown  away  outside  the  village." 

Pariyari  (doctor). — A  name  given  to  Tamil  barbers 
(Ambattan),  who  practice  as  barber-surgeons. 

Pariyata. — Five  individuals  were  recorded,  at  the 
census,  1901,  under  the  name  Pariyata  or  Parit,  as  mem- 
bers of  a  Bombay  caste  of  washermen  in  South  Canara. 

Parvatha. — Parvatha  or  Parvathala,  meaning  hill  or 
mountain,  has  been  recorded  as  an  exogamous  sept  of 
Gamalla,  Kapu,  Mala,  and  Medara. 

Pasi.— A  few  members  of  this  Bengal  caste  of  toddy- 
drawers  were  returned  at  the  Madras  census,  1901.  The 
name  is  said  to  be  derived  from  pasa,  a  noose  or  cord, 


probably  in  reference  to  the  sling  used  by  them  in 
climbing  palm  trees.*  Pasi,  meaning  coloured  glass 
beads,  occurs  as  a  sub-division  of  Idaiyan,  and  the 
equivalent  Pasikatti  as  a  sub-division  of  Valaiyan. 

Pasu.— Pasu  (cow)  or  Pasula  has  been  recorded  as 
an  exogamous  sept  of  Boya,  Mala  and  Madiga,  and  a 
sub-division  of  west  coast  Pulayans,  who  eat  beef. 

Pasupula  (turmeric). — Pasula  or  Pasupula  is  an 
exogamous  sept  of  Boya  and  Devanga.  Pasupuleti 
occurs  as  a  sub-division  of  Balija.     See  Arashina, 

Patabonka.^A  sub-division  of  Bonka. 

Patali.— An  occupational  name  applied  to  priests  of 
temples  and  bhuthasthanas  (devil  shrines),  and  Stanikas 
in  South  Canara. 

Patha  (old). — A  sub-division  of  Idiga,  and  a  sept  of 

Pathanchitannaya  (green  pea  sept). — An  exoga- 
mous sept  of  Bant. 

Pathi  (cotton). — A  sub-division  of  Kurubas,  who 
use  a  wrist-thread  made  of  cotton  and  wool  mixed  during 
the  marriage  ceremony.  Also  an  exogamous  sept  of 
Gudala  and  Padma  Sale. 

Pathinettan.— The  Pathinettan  or  eighteen  are  car- 
penters in  Malabar,  who  "are  said  to  be  the  descendants 
of  the  smiths  who  remained  to  attend  to  the  repairs  to 
the  eighteen  temples,  when  the  rest  of  the  community 
fled  to  Ceylon,  as  related  in  the  tradition  of  the  origin  of 
the  Tiyans".t 

Paththar.— A  section  of  Saivite  Chettis,  who  wear 
the  lingam,  and  have  separated  from  the  Acharapakam 
Chettis.  They  bury  their  dead  in  a  sitting  posture.  A 
bamboo  stick  is  tied  to  the  kudumi  (hair-knot)  of  the 

♦  Risley.     Tribes  and  Castes  of  Bengal, 
t   Gazetteer  of  the  Malabar  district. 

PATNAIK  1 60 

corpse,  and  the  head  pulled  by  its  means  towards  the 
surface  of  the  grave.  Paththar  is  also  a  name  given  to 
goldsmiths  by  other  castes. 

Patnaik.— A  title  of  Karnam. 

Patnulkaran.— The  Patnulkarans  are  described,  in 
the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  as  "a  caste  of  foreign 
weavers  found  in  all  the  Tamil  districts,  but  mainly  in 
Madura  town,  who  speak  Patnuli  or  Khatri,  a  dialect  of 
Gujarati,  and  came  originally  from  Gujarat.  They  have 
always  been  known  here  as  Patnulkarans,  or  silk  thread 
people.  They  are  referred  to  in  the  inscriptions  of 
Kumara  Gupta  (A.D.  473)  at  Mandasor,  south  of 
Gujarat,  by  the  name  of  Pattavayaka,  which  is  the 
Sanskrit  equivalent  of  Patnulkaran,  and  the  sasanam  of 
Queen  Mangammal  of  Madura,  mentioned  below,  speaks 
of  them  by  the  same  name,  but  lately  they  have  taken 
to  calling  themselves  Saurashtras  from  the  Saurashtra 
country  from  which  they  came.  They  also  claim  to  be 
Brahmans.  They  thus  frequently  entered  themselves 
in  the  schedules  as  Saurashtra  Brahmans.  They  are 
an  intelligent  and  hard-working  community,  and  deserve 
every  sympathy  in  the  efforts  which  they  are  making  to 
elevate  the  material  prosperity  of  their  members  and 
improve  their  educational  condition,  but  a  claim  to 
Brahmanhood  is  a  difficult  matter  to  establish.  They 
say  that  their  claim  is  denied  because  they  are  weavers 
by  profession,  which  none  of  the  Southern  Brahmans 
are,  and  because  the  Brahmans  of  the  Tamil  country  do 
not  understand  their  rites,  which  are  the  northern  rites. 
The  Mandasor  inscriptions,  however,  represent  them  as 
soldiers  as  well  as  weavers,  which  does  not  sound  Brah- 
manical,  and  the  Tamil  Brahmans  have  never  raised  any 
objections  to  the  Gauda  Brahmans  calling  themselves 
such,  different  as  their  ways  are  from  those  current  in 


the  south.  In  Madura  their  claim  to  Brahmanhood  has 
always  been  disputed.  As  early  as  1705  A.D.  the 
Brahmans  of  Madura  called  in  question  the  Patnulkarans' 
right  to  perform  the  annual  upakarma  (or  renewal  of  the 
sacred  thread)  in  the  Brahman  fashion.  [Eighteen 
members  of  the  community  were  arrested  by  the 
Governor  of  Madura  for  performing  this  ceremony.] 
The  matter  was  taken  to  the  notice  of  the  Queen 
Mangammal,  and  she  directed  her  State  pandits  to  con- 
vene meetings  of  learned  men,  and  to  examine  into  it. 
On  their  advice,  she  issued  a  cadjan  (palm  leaf)  sasanam 
(grant)  which  permitted  them  to  follow  the  Brahmani- 
cal  rites.  But  all  the  twice-born — whether  Brahmans, 
Kshatriyas,  or  Vaisyas — are  entitled  to  do  the  same, 
and  the  sasanam  establishes  little.  The  Patnuls  point 
out  that,  in  some  cases,  their  gotras  are  Brahmanical. 
But,  in  many  instances  which  could  be  quoted,  Kshatriyas 
had  also  Brahmanical  gotras." 

It  is  stated,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the  Madura  district, 
that  the  inscription  at  Mandasor  in  Western  Malwa 
"  relates  how  the  Pattavayas,  as  the  caste  was  then 
called,  were  induced  to  migrate  thither  from  Lata  on  the 
coast  of  Gujarat  by  king  Kumara  Gupta  (or  one  of  his 
lieutenants),  to  practice  there  their  art  of  silk-weaving. 
The  inscription  says  many  flattering  things  about  the 
community,  and  poetically  compares  the  city  to  a  beauti- 
ful woman,  and  the  immigrants  to  the  silk  garments  in 
which  she  decks  herself  when  she  goes  to  meet  her 
lover.  [The  inscription  further  records  that,  while  the 
noble  Bandhuvarman  was  governing  this  city  of  Dasa- 
pura,  which  had  been  brought  to  a  state  of  great 
prosperity,  a  noble  and  unequalled  temple  of  the  bright- 
rayed  (sun)  was  caused  to  be  built  by  the  silk-cloth 
weavers  (pattavayair)    as    a    guild   with    the    stores  of 


prtnulkAran  162 

wealth  acquired  by  (the  exercise  of  their)  craft.]  On 
the  destruction  of  Mandas5r  by  the  Mussalmans,  the 
Pattavayas  seem  to  have  travelled  south  to  Devagiri, 
the  modern  Daulatabad,  the  then  capital  of  the  Yada- 
vas,  and  thence,  when  the  Mussalmans  again  appeared 
on  the  scene  at  the  beginning  of  the  fourteenth  century, 
to  Vijayanagar,  and  eventually  to  Madura.  A  curious 
ceremony  confirming  this  conjecture  is  performed  to  this 
day  at  Patnulkaran  weddings  in  South  India.  Before 
the  date  of  the  wedding,  the  bridegroom's  party  go  to 
the  bride's  house,  and  ask  formally  for  the  girl's  hand. 
Her  relations  ask  them  in  a  set  form  of  words  who  they 
are,  and  whence  they  come,  and  they  reply  that  they  are 
from  Sorath  (the  old  name  for  Saurashtra  or  Kathiawar), 
resided  in  Devagiri,  travelled  south  (owing  to  Mussalman 
oppression)  to  Vijayanagar,  and  thence  came  to  Madura. 
They  then  ask  the  bride's  party  the  same  question,  and 
receive  the  same  reply.  A  Marathi  MS.,  prepared  in 
1822  at  Salem  under  the  direction  of  the  then  Collector, 
Mr.  M.  D.  Cockburn,  contains  the  same  tradition.  Mr. 
Sewell's  '  A  Forgotten  Empire  :  Vijayanagar '  shows  how 
common  silk  clothing  and  trappings  were  at  Vijayanagar 
in  the  days  of  its  glory.  Most  of  the  Patnulkarans  can 
still  speak  Telugu,  which  raises  the  inference  that  they 
must  have  resided  a  long  time  in  the  Telugu  country, 
while  their  Patnuli  contains  many  Canarese  and  Telugu 
words,  and  they  observe  the  feast  of  Basavanna  (or 
Boskanna),  which  is  almost  peculiar  to  the  Bellary  country. 
After  the  downfall  of  Vijayanagar,  some  of  the  caste 
seem  to  have  gone  to  Bangalore,  for  a  weaving  com- 
munity called  Patvegars,  who  speak  a  dialect  similar  to 
Patnuli,  still  reside  there."  Concerning  the  Patnulis 
who  have  settled  in  the  Mysore  Province,  it  is  noted,  in 
the  Mysore  Census  Report,  1891,  that  "  with  silk  they 

1 63  patnulkAran 

manufacture  a  fine  stuff  called  katni,  which  no  other 
weavers  are  said  to  be  able  to  prepare.  It  is  largely 
used  by  Mussalmans  for  trousers  and  lungas  (gowns). 
It  is  said  that  Haider  Ali,  while  returning  from  his 
expeditions  against  Madras,  forcibly  brought  with  him 
some  twenty-five  families  of  these  weavers,  who  were 
living  in  the  Tanjore  district,  and  established  them  at 
Ganjam  near  Seringapatam,  and,  in  order  to  encourage 
silk  and  velvet  weaving,  exempted  them  from  certain 
taxes.  The  industry  flourished  till  the  fall  of  Seringa- 
patam, when  most  of  the  class  fled  from  the  country,  a 
few  only  having  survived  those  troublous  times.  At 
present  there  are  only  254  souls  returned  to  these  people, 
employed  in  making  carpets  in  Bangalore." 

"The  Patnulkars,"  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  writes,*  "say 
that  they  were  originally  Brahmans,  living  in  a  town 
of  Surat  called  Devagiri,  in  which  twelve  streets  were 
entirely  peopled  by  them.  For  some  reason,  of  which 
they  profess  themselves  to  be  ignorant,  the  residents  of 
one  of  these  streets  were  excommunicated  by  the  rest 
of  the  caste,  and  expelled.  They  travelled  southwards, 
and  settled  in  Tirupati,  Arni,  and  Vellore,  as  well  as  in 
Trichinopoly,  Tanjore,  Madura,  and  other  large  towns, 
where  they  carried  on  their  trade  of  silk-weaving. 
Another  story  is  to  the  effect  that  they  were  bound  to 
produce  a  certain  number  of  silken  cloths  at  each  Dlpa- 
vali  feast  in  Devagiri  for  the  goddess  Lakshmi.  One 
year  their  supply  fell  short,  and  they  were  cursed  by 
the  goddess,  who  decreed  that  they  should  no  longer 
be  regarded  as  Brahmans.  They,  however,  still  claim  to 
be  such,  and  follow  the  customs  of  that  caste,  though 
they  refuse  to  eat  with  them.     They  acknowledge  priests 

•  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 
VI-li B 


from  among  themselves,  as  well  as  from  among  Brahmans, 
and  profess  to  look  down  upon  all  other  castes.  In 
religion  they  are  divided  into  Smartas,  Vaishnavas, 
and  Vyaparis,  some  among  the  Smartas  being  Linga- 
yats.  Those  who  can  write  usually  employ  the  Telugu 
characters  in  writing  their  language." 

The  Patnulkarans,  according  to  one  tradition,  claim 
descent  from  a  certain  Brahman  sage,  known  as  Tantu- 
vardhanar,  meaning  literally  a  person  who  improves 
threads,  i.e.,  manufactures  and  weaves  them  into  cloths. 
This  is,  it  is  suggested,  probably  only  an  eponymous 

In  the  Manual  of  the  Madura  district,  the  Patnul- 
karans are  described  as  "a  caste  of  Surat  silk-weavers, 
whose  ancestors  were  induced  to  settle  in  Madura  by 
one  of  the  earlier  Nayakkan  kings,  or  in  response'to  an 
invitation  from  Tirumala  Naik,  and  who  have  thriven  so 
well  that  [they  now  form  by  far  the  most  numerous  of 
all  the  castes  resident  in  the  town  of  Madura.  They 
are  very  skilful  and  industrious  workmen,  and  many  of 
them  have  become  very  wealthy.  They  keep  altogether 
aloof  from  other  castes,  and  live  independently  of  gen- 
eral society,  speaking  a  foreign  tongue,  and  preserving 
intact  the  customs  of  the  land  of  their  origin.  They  are 
easily  distinguished  in  appearance  from  Tamils,  being  of 
a  light  yellowish  colour,  and  having  handsomer  and  more 
intelligent  features.  They  are  called  Chettis  or  mer- 
chants by  Tamils."  In  a  recent  note,*  the  Patnulkarans 
of  Madura  are  described  as  being  "  exceedingly  grega- 
rious ;  they  live  together  in  large  numbers  in  small  houses, 
and  their  social  status  in  the  country  is  quite  unsettled. 
Though   they   delight    to    call    themselves    Saurashtra 

*  Madras  Mail,  1907. 


Brahmans,  the  Tamils  consider  them  to  be  a  low  caste. 
Like  the  Brahmans,  they  wear  the  sacred  thread,  and 
tack  on  to  their  names  such  titles  as  Iyengar,  Iyer,  Rao, 
Bhagavather,  Sastrigal,  and  so  forth,  though  the  con- 
servatives among  them  still  cling  to  the  time-honoured 
simple  Chetti.  Child  marriage  is  the  rule,  and  widow 
marriage  is  never  practiced.  Hindus  by  religion,  they 
worship  indiscriminately  both  the  Siva  and  Vaishnava 
deities,  but  all  of  them  wear  big  Iyengar  namams  on 
their  foreheads,  even  more  prominently  than  do  the  real 
Iyengars  themselves.  All  of  them  pass  for  pure  vege- 
tarians. The  proud  position  of  Madura  to  this  day  as 
second  city  in  the  Presidency  is  mainly,  if  not  solely, 
due  to  her  prosperous  and  industrious  community  of 
Saurashtra  merchants  and  silk-weavers,  who  have  now 
grown  into  nearly  half  her  population,  and  who  have 
also  come  to  a  foremost  place  among  the  ranks  of  her 
citizens.  They  have  their  representatives  to-day  in 
the  Municipal  Councils  and  in  the  Local  and  District 
Boards.  Their  perseverance  has  won  for  them  a  place 
in  the  Devastanam  Committee  of  one  of  the  most  pros- 
perous temples  in  the  district.  But,  in  spite  of  their 
affluence  and  leading  position  it  must  be  confessed  that 
they  are  essentially  a  '  backward  class '  in  respect  of  Eng- 
lish education  and  enlightenment.  They  are,  however, 
making  steady  progress.  An  English  high  school  for 
Saurashtra  boys,  and  a  number  of  elementary  schools  for 
girls,  are  now  maintained  by  the  Saurashtra  Sabha 
for  the  proper  education  of  their  children."  In  1906,  a 
member  of  the  community  was  appointed  a  member  of 
the  committee  of  the  Sri  Kalla  Alagar  temple  in  the 
Madura  district. 

In  an  order  of  the  Director  of  Public  Instruction,  in 
1900,  it  was  laid  down  that  "  Saurashtras  having  been 


recognised  (in  1892)  as  a  backward  class  falling  under 
Pattunulgars,  the  manager  cannot  continue  to  enjoy  the 
privileges  accorded  under  the  grant-in-aid  code  to  schools 
intended  for  backward  classes,  if  he  returns  his  pupils 
as  Brahmans.  If  the  pupils  have  been  returned  as 
Saurashtra  Brahmans,  the  manager  should  be  requested 
to  revise,  as  no  such  caste  is  recognised."  A  deputa- 
tion had  an  interview  with  the  Director,  and  it  was 
subsequently  ruled  that  "  Saurashtras  will  continue  to 
be  treated  as  a  backward  class.  Pupils  belonging  to 
the  above  class  should  invariably  be  returned  in  future 
as  Saurashtras,  whether  the  word  Brahman  is  added 
or  not." 

In  a  "History  of  the  Saurashtras  in  Southern  India"* 
it  is  recorded  that  "  when  the  Saurashtras  settled  in  the 
south,  they  reproduced  the  institutions  of  their  mother 
country  in  the  new  land  ;  but,  owing  to  the  influence  of 
the  Southern  Dravidians,  some  of  the  institutions  became 
extinct.  During  their  migrations,  the  men  were  under 
the  guidance  of  their  leader,  and  the  process  of  migra- 
tion tended  to  increase  the  power  of  kinship.  The 
people  were  divided  into  four  heads,  called  Goundas 
(chiefs),  Saulins  (elders),  Voyddoos  (physicians),  and 
Bhoutuls  (religious  men).  Some  traces  of  the  division 
still  survive  in  the  now  neglected  institution  of  Goun- 
dans.  The  Goundans  were  supposed  to  be  responsible 
for  the  acts  and  doings  of  their  men.  The  masses 
enjoyed  the  property  under  the  joint  undivided  Hindu 
family  system  as  prescribed  in  the  Code  of  Manu.  The 
chiefs  were  the  judges  in  both  civil  and  criminal  affairs. 
They  were  aided  in  deciding  cases  by  a  body  of  nobles 
called  Saulins.     The  office  of  the  Saulins  is  to   make 

*  By  the  Saurashtra  Literary  Societies  of  Madura  and  Madras,  1891. 

16;         PATNULKARAN 

enquiries,  and  try  all  cases  connected  with  the  commu- 
nity, and  to  abide  by  the  decision  of  the  chiefs.  The 
Voyddoos  (pandits)  and  Bhoutuls  (Josis  and  Kavis  also 
ranked  with  Voyddas  and  Bhoutuls)  had  their  honours 
on  all  important  occasions,  and  they  are  placed  in  the 
same  rank  with  the  elders.  The  Karestuns,  or  the  Com- 
mons, are  the  whole  body  of  the  masses.  Their  voice  is 
necessary  on  certain  important  occasions,  as  during  the 
ceremonies  of  excommunication,  and  prayaschittas  for 
admitting  renegades,  and  during  periodical  meetings 
of  the  community.  The  Goundans  at  present  are  not 
exercising  any  of  their  powers,  except  in  some  religious 
matters.  Saurashtra  Brahmans  were  originally  leading 
a  purely  religious  life,  but  now  they  have  begun  to  do 
business  of  different  descriptions  fitted  to  their  position. 
Their  chief  occupation  is  agriculture,  but  some  are 
trading,  dyeing  and  weaving  ;  however,  it  can  be  safely 
affirmed  that  their  business  interferes  in  no  way  with 
their  religious  creed  and  ceremonies.  The  name  Patnul- 
gar  means  silk  weavers,  and  is  sometimes  erroneously 
applied  to  the  Saurashtras  too  ;  but,  on  the  contrary,  the 
term  strictly  applies  to  all  classes  of  weavers  in  Southern 
India,  called  Seniyars,  Kaikkolars,  Devangas,  Kshatris 
(Khattris),  Parayas,  Sengundas,  Mudaliars,  Saliyurs, 
Padmasalays,  but  not  to  the  Saurashtras  in  any  way. 
The  Saurashtras  are  now  seen  as  a  mercantile  com- 
munity. They  are  brave  but  humble,  god-fearing, 
hospitable,  fond  of  festivities  and  amusement.  The 
Saurashtras,  it  is  said,  were  originally  a  class  of  sun 
worshippers,  from  soura  meaning  sun,  but  the  term 
Saurashtra  means  inhabitants  of  the  fruitful  kingdom. 
Their  religion  is  Hinduism,  and  they  were  originally 
Madhvas.  After  their  settlement  in  Southern  India, 
some  of  them,  owing  to  the  preachings  of  Sankaracharya 

patnulkaraN  i6B 

and  Ramanujacharya,  were  converted  into  Saivites  and 
Vaishnavites  respectively.  The  Saurashtras  belong  to 
the  Aksobhya  and  Sankaracharya  Matas.  The  Sau- 
rashtras, like  other  nations  of  India,  are  divided  into  four 
great  divisions,  viz.,  Brahma,  Kshatriya,  Vaisya  and 
Sudra.  The  Valsyas  and  Sudras  are  to  be  found  in 
almost  all  towns  and  villages,  and  especially  at  Tirupati, 
Nagari,  Naranavanam,  Arni,  Kottar,  Palani,  Palam- 
cottah,  Vilangudi,  and  Viravanallur." 

The  affairs  of  the  Patnulkarans  at  Madura  are 
managed  by  a  Saurashtra  Sabha,  which  was  started  in 
1895.  Among  the  laudable  objects  for  which  the  Sabha 
was  established,  the  following  may  be  noted  : — 

{a)  To  manage  the  Madura  Saurashtra  school, 
and  establish  reading-rooms,  libraries,  etc.,  with  a  view 
to  enable  members  of  the  Saurashtra  community  to 
receive,  on  moderate  terms,  a  sound,  liberal,  general  and 
technical  education. 

(d)  To  manage  the  temple  known  as  the  Madura 
Sri  Prasanna  Venkateswara  Swami's  temple,  and  contri- 
bute towards  its  maintenance  by  constructing,  repairing 
and  preserving  buildings  in  connection  therewith,  mak- 
ing jewels,  vehicles  and  other  things  necessary  therefor, 
and  conducting  the  festivals  thereof. 

(c)  To  found  charitable  institutions,  such  as  orphan- 
ages, hospitals,  poor-houses,  choultries  (resting-places 
for  travellers),  water-sheds,  and  other  things  of  a  like 
nature  for  the  good  of  the  Saurashtra  community. 

(d)  To  give  succour  to  the  suffering  poor,  and 
the  maimed,  the  lame,  and  the  blind  in  the  Saurashtra 

(e)  To  give  pecuniary  grants  in  aid  of  upanaya- 
nams  (thread  marriages)  to  the  helpless  in  the  Saurashtra 


(y")  To  erect  such  works  of  utility  as  bathing 
ghauts,  wells,  water  fountains,  and  other  works  of  utility 
for  the  benefit  of  the  Saurashtra  community. 

(^)  To  fix  and  raise  subscriptions  known  as 
mahamais  (a  sort  of  income-tax). 

Among  the  subjects  of  the  lectures  delivered  in  con- 
nection with  the  Saurashtra  Upanyasa  Sabha  at  Madura 
in  1901  were  the  life  of  Mrs.  Annie  Besant,  the  Paris 
Exhibition  of  1900,  Mr.  Tata  and  higher  education, 
Saurashtra  bank,  Columbus,  and  the  Saurashtra  reform 

A  few  years  ago,  the  Saurashtra  community  sub- 
mitted a  memorial  to  the  Governor  of  Madras  to  the  effect 
that  "  as  the  backward  Saurashtra  community  have  not 
the  requisite  capital  of  half  a  lakh  of  rupees  for  imparting 
to  their  members  both  general  and  technical  education, 
the  Saurashtra  Sabha,  Madura,  suggests  that  a  lottery 
office  may  be  kept  for  collecting  shares  at  one  rupee 
each  from  such  of  the  public  at  large  as  may  be  willing 
to  give  the  same,  on  the  understanding  that,  every  time 
the  collections  aggregate  to  Rs.  6,250,  Rs.  250  should  be 
set  apart  for  the  expenses  of  working  the  said  office,  and 
two-thirds  of  the  remainder  for  educational  purposes, 
and  one-third  should  be  awarded  by  drawing  lots  among 
the  subscribers  in  the  shape  of  five  prizes,  ranging 
from  Rs.  1,000  to  Rs.  125."  In  passing  orders  on  this 
sporting  scheme,  the  Government  stated  that  it  was  not 
prepared  to  authorise  the  lottery.  It  has  been  well 
said  *  that  the  Patnulkarans  have  a  very  strong  esprit  de 
corps,  and  this  has  stood  them  in  good  stead  in  their 
weaving,  which  is  more  scientifically  carried  on,  and  in 
a  more  flourishing  condition  than  is  usual  elsewhere. 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  Madura  district. 


For  the  following  note  on  the  Patnulkaran  weavers 
of  Madura,  I  am  Indebted  to  Mr.  A.  Chatterton,  Direc- 
tor of  Technical  Enquiries  : — "  As  a  general  rule,  they 
are  in  a  flourishing  condition,  and  much  better  off  than 
the  Saurashtra  weavers  in  Salem.  This  is  probably 
due  to  the  fact  that  the  bulk  of  the  Madura  trade  is  in  a 
higher  class  of  cloth  than  at  Salem,  and  the  weavers  are 
consequently  less  affected  by  fluctuations  in  demand  for 
their  goods  due  to  seasonal  variations.  In  various  ways 
the  Saurashtras  of  Madura  have  furnished  evidence  that 
they  are  a  progressive  community,  particularly  in  the 
attention  which  they  pay  to  education,  and  the  keenness 
with  which  they  are  on  the  look-out  for  improvements 
in  the  methods  of  carrying  out  their  hereditary  craft. 
Nearly  all  the  so-called  improvements  have  been  tried 
at  Madura,  and  the  fact  that  they  have  rejected  most  of 
them  may  be  taken  to  some  extent  as  evidence  of  their 
unsuitability  for  Indian  conditions.  Some  time  ago,  one 
A.  A.  Kuppusawmy  Iyer  invented  certain  improvements 
in  the  native  shedding  apparatus,  whereby  ornamental 
patterns  are  woven  along  the  borders,  and  on  the  ends 
of  the  better  class  of  silk  and  cotton  cloths.  This  appa- 
ratus was  undoubtedly  a  material  improvement  upon  that 
which  is  ordinarily  used  by  the  weaver,  and  it  has  been 
taken  up  extensively  in  the  town.  It  is  said  that  there 
are  350  looms  fitted  with  this  shedding  apparatus,  and 
the  inventor,  who  has  obtained  a  patent  for  it,  is  try- 
ing to  collect  a  royalty  of  Rs.  1-4-0  a  month  on  each 
loom.  But  this  claim  is  resisted  by  a  combination  of 
the  weavers  using  this  shedding  apparatus,  and  a  suit 
is  at  the  present  time  (1907)  pending  in  the  District 
Court.  One  of  the  most  important  weaving  enterprises 
at  Madura  is  the  Meenakshi  Weaving  Company,  the 
partners   of  which  are  Ramachandra  Iyer,   Muthurama 


Iyer,  and  Kuppusawmy  Iyer.  Their  subscribed  capital 
is  Rs.  1,00,000,  of  which  they  are  spending  no  less  than 
Rs.  40,000  on  building  a  weaving  shed  and  office.  The 
Madura  dyeing  industry  is  in  the  hands  of  the  Saurash- 
tras,  and  the  modern  phase  dates  back  only  as  far  as 
1895,  when  Mr.  Tulsiram  started  dyeing  grey  yarn  with 
alizarine  red,  and,  in  the  twelve  years  which  have  since 
elapsed,  the  industry  has  grown  to  very  large  proportions. 
The  total  sales  at  Madura  average  at  present  about  24 
lakhs  a  year.  There  are  from  t,o  to  40  dye-houses,  and 
upwards  of  5,000  cwt.  of  alizarine  red  is  purchased  every 
year  from  the  Badische  Aniline  Soda  Fabrik.  The  yarn 
is  purchased  locally,  mainly  from  the  Madura  Mills,  but, 
to  some  extent,  also  from  Coimbatore  and  Tuticorin. 
The  mordanting  is  done  entirely  with  crude  native  earths, 
containing  a  large  percentage  of  potassium  salts.  Dry- 
ing the  yarn  presents  considerable  difficulty,  especially  in 
the  wet  weather.  To  secure  a  fast  even  colour,  the  yarn 
is  mordanted  about  ten  times,  and  dyed  twice,  or  for 
very  superior  work  three  times,  and  between  each  opera- 
tion it  is  essential  that  the  yarn  should  be  dried.  The 
suburbs  of  Madura  are  now  almost  entirely  covered  with 
drying  yards." 

In  a  note  on  the  Patnulkarans  who  have  settled  in 
Travancore,  Mr.  N.  Subramani  Aiyar  writes  as  follows. 
"  The  Patnulkarans  are  generally  of  yellowish  tinge,  and 
in  possession  of  handsomer  and  more  intellectual  features 
than  the  Tamil  castes,  from  which  they  may  be  easily 
differentiated  by  even  a  casual  observer.  They  are,  how- 
ever, more  fair  than  cleanly.  They  keep  in  Travancore, 
as  elsewhere,  aloof  from  other  castes,  and  live  independ- 
ently of  general  society,  speaking  a  foreign  language. 
This  they  have  preserved  with  astonishing  attachment, 
and  recently  a  Saurashtra  alphabet  has  been  invented,  and 


elementary  books  have  begun  to  be  written  in  that  dialect. 
They  are  a  very  conservative  class,  religious  enthusiasts 
of  a  very  remarkable  order,  and  skilful  and  industrious 
workmen.  They  take  a  peculiar  pleasure  in  music,  and 
many  of  them  are  excellent  songsters.  There  are  many 
kinds  of  amusement  for  both  men  and  women,  who 
generally  spend  their  leisure  in  singing  songs  of  a  devo- 
tional nature.  They  believe  largely  in  omens,  of  which 
the  following  may  be  noted  : — 

Good. — A  pot  full  of  water,  a  burning  light,  no 
Brahmans,  a  Sudra,  a  cow,  a  married  woman,  and  gold. 
Bad. — A  barber,  a   patient,  a  person    with    some 
bodily  defect,  fuel,  oil,  a  donkey,   a  pick-axe,  a  broom, 
and  a  fan. 

"  On  entering  a  Patnulkaran's  house,  we  are  led  to 
a  courtyard,  spacious  and  neat,  where  all  the  necessary 
arrangements  are  made  for  weaving  purposes.  The 
Patnulkarans  live  in  streets.  A  male  Patnulkaran  resem- 
bles a  Tamil  Vaishnava  Brahman  in  outward  appearance, 
but  the  women  follow  the  custom  of  the  Telugu  Brah- 
mans alike  in  their  costume  and  ornaments.  Their 
jewels  exactly  resemble  those  of  the  Telugu  Brahman 
women,  and  indicate  a  temporary  residence  of  the  caste 
in  the  Telugu  country  on  the  way  from  Gujarat  to 
Madura.  There  is  a  Tamil  proverb  to  the  effect  that, 
if  a  male  Patnulkaran  is  seen  without  his  wife,  he  will 
be  taken  for  a  Vaishnava  Brahman,  whereas,  in  the  case 
of  the  Tatan  caste,  a  woman  without  her  husband  will 
be  taken  for  an  Aiyangar.  Children  wear  the  karai 
round  the  neck.  Tattooing  prevails  on  a  very  large 

"  The  Patnulkarans  may  be  divided  into  three  classes 
on  a  religious  basis,  viz.,  (i)  pure  Vaishnavites,  who 
wear  the  vertical  Vaishnavite  mark,  and  call  themselves 



Vadakalas  or  northerners  ;  (2)  those  who  are  mainly 
Smartas  ;  (3)  Sankara  Vaishnavas,  who  wear  gopi  (sandal 
paste)  as  their  sect-mark.  It  is  to  the  last  of  these 
religious  sects  that  the  Travancore  Patnulkarans  belong, 
though,  in  recent  times,  a  few  Smartas  have  settled  at 
Kottar.  All  these  intermarry  and  interdine,  and  the 
religious  difference  does  not  create  a  distinction  in  the 
caste.  The  chief  divinity  of  the  Patnulkarans  is  Ven- 
katachalapati  of  Tirupati.  The  month  in  which  he  is 
most  worshipped  is  Kanni  (September-October),  and  all 
the  Saturdays  and  the  Tiruvonam  star  of  the  month  are 
particularly  devoted  to  his  adoration.  One  of  their  men 
becomes  possessed  on  any  of  these  days,  and,  holding  a 
burning  torch-light  in  his  hand,  touches  the  foreheads 
of  the  assembled  devotees  therewith.  The  Patnulkarans 
fast  on  those  days,  and  take  an  image  of  Garuda  in 
procession  through  the  street.  The  Dipavali,  Pannamasi 
in  Chittiray,  and  the  Vaikuntha  Ekadasi  are  other 
important  religious  days.  The  Dusserah  is  observed, 
as  also  are  the  festivals  of  Sri  Rama  Navami,  Ashtami, 
Rohini,  Avani  Avittam,  and  Vara  Lakshmivratam. 
Formal  worship  of  deities  is  done  by  those  who  have 
obtained  the  requisite  initiation  from  a  spiritual  pre- 
ceptor. Women  who  have  husbands  fast  on  full-moon 
days,  Mondays,  and  Fridays.  The  serpent  and  the 
banyan  tree  are  specially  worshipped.  Women  sing 
songs  in  praise  of  Lakshmi,  and  offer  fruits  and 
cocoanuts  to  her.  The  Patnulkarans  have  a  temple 
dedicated  to  Sri  Rama  at  Kottar.  This  temple  is 
visited  even  by  Brahmans,  and  the  priests  are  Aiyangars. 
The  Acharya,  or  supreme  religious  authority  of  the 
Patnulkarans,  in  Travancore  is  a  Vaishnava  Brahman 
known  as  Ubhaya  Vedanta  Koti  Kanyakadana  Tata- 
chariyar,  who   lives  at  Aravankulam  near  Tinnevelly, 


and  possesses  a  large  number  of  disciples.  Once  a 
year  he  visits  his  flock  in  Travancore,  and  is  highly- 
respected  by  them,  as  also  by  the  Maharaja,  who  makes 
a  donation  of  money  to  him.  Elders  are  appointed  to 
decide  social  disputes,  and  manage  the  common  property 
of  the  caste.  In  Travancore  there  are  said  to  be  only 
three  families  of  Patnulkaran  priests.  For  the  higher 
ceremonies,  Brahman  priests  are  employed. 

"  A  girl's  marriage  is  usually  celebrated  before 
puberty,  and  sometimes  when  she  is  a  mere  child  ot 
four  or  five.  Great  importance  is  attached  to  gotras 
or  exogamous  septs,  and  it  is  said  that  the  septs  of 
the  bride  and  bridegroom  are  conspicuously  inscribed 
on  the  walls  of  a  marriage  house.  In  the  selection 
of  an  auspicious  hour  (muhurtam)  for  a  marriage,  two 
favourable  planetary  situations,  one  closely  following  the 
other,  are  necessary  ;  and,  as  such  occasions  are  rare, 
a  number  of  marriages  take  place  at  one  time.  A  man 
may  claim  his  maternal  uncle's  daughter  as  his  wife, 
and  polygamy  is  permitted.  The  marriage  ceremonial 
resembles  the  Brahmanical  rites  in  many  points.  On 
the  fourth  day,  a  ceremonial  observed  by  Telugu  Brah- 
mans,  called  Nagabali,  is  performed.  The  marriage 
badge,  which  is  tied  on  the  bride's  neck,  is  called  bottu. 
[From  a  note  on  the  marriage  ceremonies  among  the 
Patnulkarans  of  Madura,  I  gather  that,  as  among  Telugu 
and  Canarese  castes,  a  number  of  pots  are  arranged, 
and  worshipped.  These  pots  are  smaller  and  fewer  in 
number  than  at  a  Telugu  or  Canarese  wedding.  A 
figure  of  a  car  is  drawn  on  the  wall  of  the  house  with 
red  earth  or  laterite.*  On  it  the  name  of  the  sfotra 
of  the  bridegroom  is  written.     On  the  fourth  day,  the 

*  A  reddish  geological  formation,  found  all  over  Southern  India. 

175  patnulkAran 

nagavali  (or  offering  to  Devas)  is  performed.  The 
contracting  couple  sit  near  the  pots,  and  a  number  of 
lights  are  arranged  on  the  floor.  The  pots,  which 
represent  the  Devas,  are  worshipped.] 

"  The  namakarana,  or  name-giving  ceremony,  is 
performed  on  the  eleventh  day  after  birth.  An  eighth 
child,  whether  male  or  female,  is  called  Krishna,  owing 
to  the  tradition  that  Krishna  was  born  as  the  eighth  child 
of  Vasudeva.  Babies  are  affectionately  called  Duddu 
(milk)  or  Pilla  (child).  The  annaprasana,  or  first  feeding 
of  the  child,  is  sometimes  celebrated  at  the  end  of  the 
first  year,  but  usually  as  a  preliminary  to  some  subse- 
quent ceremony.  Sometimes,  in  performance  of  a  vow, 
boys  are  taken  to  the  shrine  at  Tirupati  for  the  tonsure 
ceremony.  The  upanayana  is  performed  between  the 
seventh  and  twelfth  years,  but  neither  brahmacharya  nor 
samavartana  is  observed. 

"  The  dead  are  burnt,  and  the  remains  of  the  bones 
are  collected  and  deposited  under  water.  Death  pol- 
lution lasts  only  for  ten  days.  The  sradh,  or  annual 
ceremony,  when  oblations  are  offered  to  ancestors,  is 
observed.  Widows  are  allowed  to  retain  their  hair,  but 
remove  the  bottu.  Unlike  Brahman  women,  they  chew 
betel,  and  wear  coloured  cloths,  even  in  old  age." 

The  Patnulkarans  have  a  secret  trade  language, 
concerning  which  Mr.  C.  Hayavadana  Rao  writes  as 
follows.  "  The  most  remarkable  feature  about  it  is  the 
number  of  terms  and  phrases  borrowed  from  the  craft, 
to  which  special  meanings  are  given.  Thus  a  man  of  no 
status  is  stigmatised  as  a  rikhta  khandu,  i.e.,  a  spindle 
without  the  yarn.  Similarly,  a  man  of  little  sense  is 
called  a  mhudha,  the  name  of  a  thick  peg  which  holds 
one  side  of  the  roller.  Likewise,  a  talkative  person  is 
referred  to  as  a  rhetta,  or  roller  used  for  winding  the 

PATRA  176 

thread  upon  spindles,  which  makes  a  most  unpleasant 
creaking  noise.  Kapiniker,  from  kapini,  a  technical 
term  used  for  cutting  the  loom  off,  means  to  make  short 
work  of  an  undesirable  person.  A  man  who  is  past 
middle  age  is  called  porkut  phillias,  which,  in  weavers' 
parlance,  means  that  half  the  loom  is  turned." 

Patra.— The  Patras  are  an  Oriya  caste,  which  is 
divided  into  two  sections,  one  of  which  is  engaged  in 
the  manufacture  of  silk  (pata)  waist-threads,  tassels, 
etc.,  and  the  other  in  weaving  silk  cloths.  The  members 
of  the  two  sections  do  not  interdine.  The  former  have 
exogamous  septs  or  bamsams,  the  names  of  which  are 
also  used  as  titles,  e.g.,  Sahu,  Patro,  and  Prushti.  The 
latter  have  exogamous  septs,  such  as  Tenga,  Jaggali, 
Telaga,  and  Mahanayako,  and  Behara  and  Nayako  as 
titles.  The  chief  headman  of  the  cloth-weaving  section 
is  called  Mahanayako,  and  there  are  other  officers  called 
Behara  and  Bhollobaya.  The  headman  of  the  other 
section  is  called  Senapati,  and  he  is  assisted  by  a 
Dhanapati.  Infant  marriage  is  the  rule,  and,  if  a  girl 
does  not  secure  a  husband  before  she  reaches  maturity, 
she  must,  if  she  belongs  to  the  cloth-weaving  section, 
go  through  a  form  of  marriage  with  an  old  man,  and,  if 
to  the  other  section,  with  an  arrow. 

The  Telugu  Patras  are  summed  up,  in  the  Madras 
Census  Report,  1901,  as  "a  Telugu  caste  of  hunters 
and  cultivators,  found  chiefly  in  the  districts  of  Cuddapah 
and  Kurnool.  It  has  two  divisions,  the  Doras  (chiefs), 
and  Gurikalas  (marksmen),  the  former  of  which  is 
supposed  to  be  descended  from  the  old  Poligars  (feudal 
chiefs),  and  the  latter  from  their  followers  and  servants. 
This  theory  is  supported  by  the  fact  that,  at  the  weddings 
of  Gurikalas,  the  Doras  receive  the  first  pan-supari 
(betel  leaf  and  areca  nut).     Widows  may  not  remarry,  nor 



is  divorce  recognised.  They  usually  employ  Brahmans 
at  marriages,  and  Satanis  at  funerals.  Though  they  are 
Vaishnavites,  they  also  worship  village  deities,  such  as 
Gangamma  and  Ellamma.  They  bury  their  dead,  and 
perform  annual  sraddhas  (memorial  services  for  the  dead). 
They  will  eat  with  Gollas.     Their  title  is  Naidu." 

Patramela.— -Patramela,  or  Patradeva,  is  the  name 
of  a  class  of  dancing  girls  in  South  Canara.  Patramela, 
Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  writes,*  is  the  name  by  which  the 
Konkani  Kalavants  (courtezans)  are  known  above  the 

Patro.^The  title  of  the  head  of  a  group  of  villages 
in  Ganjam,  and  also  recorded,  at  times  of  census,  as  a 
title  of  Alia,  Kalinga  Komati,  Dolai,  and  Jaggala.  The 
conferring  of  a  cloth  (sadhi)  on  a  Patro  is  said  to  be 
emblematic  of  conferring  an  estate.  The  Patro,  among 
other  perquisites,  is  entitled  to  a  fee  on  occasions  of 
marriage.  I  am  informed  that,  in  the  Ganjam  Maliahs, 
if  a  Kondh  was  unable  to  pay  the  fee,  he  met  his  love 
at  night  beneath  two  trysting  trees,  and  retired  with  her 
into  the  jungle  for  three  days  and  nights. 

Patrudu. — The  title,  meaning  those  who  are  fit  to 
receive  a  gift,  of  Aiyarakulu  and  Nagaralu. 

Pattadhikari. — A  class  of  Jangams,  who  have 
settled  head-quarters. 

Pattan.— The  equivalent  of  the  Brahman  Bhatta. 
A  name  by  which  some  Kammalans,  especially  gold- 
smiths, style  themselves. 

Pattanavada.— A  synonym  for  the  Moger  fishing 
caste,  the  settlements  of  which  are  called  pattana. 

Pattanavan.— The  fishermen  on  the  east  coast, 
from  the  Kistna  to  the  Tanjore  district,  are  popularly 

•  Manual  of  the  South  Canara  district. 
VI- 1 2 


called  Karaiyan,  or  sea-shore  people.  Some  Karaiyans 
have,  at  times  of  census,  returned  themselves  as  Taccha 
(carpenter)  Karaiyans. 

Pattanavan  means  literally  a  dweller  in  a  town  or 
pattanam,  which  word  occurs  in  the  names  of  various 
towns  on  the  sea-coast,  e.g.,  Nagapattanam  (Negapatam), 
Chennapattanam  (Madras).  The  Pattanavans  have  two 
main  divisions,  Periya  (big)  and  Chinna  (small),  and, 
in  some  places,  for  example,  at  Nadukuppam  in  the 
Nellore  district,  exogamous  septs,  e.g.,  Gengananga, 
Peyananga,  Kathananga  (children  of  Ganga,  Peyan, 
and  Kathanar),  and  Kullananga  (children  of  dwarfs). 
In  the  Telugu  country,  they  go  by  the  name  of  Pattapu 
or  Tulivandlu. 

Some  Pattanavans  give  themselves  high-sounding 
caste  titles,  e.g.,  Ariyar,  Ayyayiraththalaivar  (the  five 
thousand  chiefs),  Ariya  Nattu  Chetti  (Chettis  of  the 
Ariyar  country),  Acchu  Vellala,  Karaiturai  (sea-coast) 
Vellala,  Varunakula  Vellala  or  Varunakula  Mudali  after 
Varuna,  the  god  of  the  waters,  or  Kurukula  vamsam  after 
Kuru,  the  ancestor  of  the  Kauravas.  Some  Pattanavans 
have  adopted  the  title  Pillai. 

The  Pattanavans  are  said  to  be  inferior  to  the 
Sembadavans,  who  will  not  accept  food  at  their  hands, 
and  discard  even  an  earthen  pot  which  has  been  touched 
by  a  Pattanavan. 

Concerning  the  origin  of  the  caste,  there  is  a  legend 
that  the  Pattanavans  were  giving  silk  thread  to  Siva, 
and  were  hence  called  Pattanavar,  a  corruption  of 
Pattanaivor,  meaning  knitters  of  silk  thread.  They  were 
at  the  time  all  bachelors,  and  Siva  suggested  the  follow- 
ing method  of  securing  wives  for  them.  They  were 
told  to  go  out  fishing  in  the  sea,  and  make  of  their  catch 
as  many  heaps  as  there  were  bachelors.     Each  of  them 


then  stood  before  a  heap,  and  called  for  a  wife,  who  was 
created  therefrom.  According  to  another  story,  some 
five  thousand  years  ago,  during  the  age  of  the  lunar 
race,  there  was  one  Dasa  Raja,  who  was  ruling  near 
Hastinapura,  and  was  childless.  To  secure  offspring, 
he  prayed  to  god,  and  did  severe  penance.  In  answer 
to  his  prayer,  God  pointed  out  a  tank  full  of  lotus  flowers, 
and  told  the  king  to  go  thither,  and  call  for  children. 
Thereon,  five  thousand  children  issued  forth  from  the 
flowers,  to  the  eldest  of  whom  the  king  bequeathed  his 
kingdom,  and  to  the  others  money  in  abundance.  Those 
who  received  the  money  travelled  southward  in  ships, 
which  were  wrecked,  and  they  were  cast  ashore.  This 
compelled  them  to  make  friends  of  local  sea  fishermen, 
whose  profession  they  adopted.  At  the  present  day, 
the  majority  of  Pattanavans  are  sea-fishermen,  and  catch 
fish  with  nets  from  catamarans.  "  Fancy,"  it  has  been 
written,*  "  a  raft  of  only  three  logs  of  wood,  tied  together 
at  each  end  when  they  go  out  to  sea,  and  untied  and 
left  to  dry  on  the  beach  when  they  come  in  again.  Each 
catamaran  has  one,  two  or  three  men  to  manage  it ; 
they  sit  crouched  on  it  upon  their  heels,  throwing  their 
paddles'  about  very  dexterously,  but  remarkably  unlike 
rowing.  In  one  of  the  early  Indian  voyager's  log-books 
there  is  an  entry  concerning  a  catamaran  :  '  This  morning, 
6  A.M.,  saw  distinctly  two  black  devils  playing  at  single 
stick.  We  watched  these  infernal  imps  about  an  hour, 
when  they  were  lost  in  the  distance.  Surely  this  doth 
portend  some  great  tempest.'  It  is  very  curious  to 
watch  these  catamarans  putting  out  to  sea.  They  get 
through  the  fiercest  surf,  sometimes  dancing  at  their 
ease  on  the  top  of  the  waters,  sometimes  hidden  under 

♦  Letters  from  Madras.     By  a  Lady,  1843. 
Vl-ia  B 


the  waters ;  sometimes  the  man  completely  washed  off 
his  catamaran,  and  man  floating  one  way  and  catamaran 
another,  till  they  seem  to  catch  each  other  again  by 
magic."  In  1906,  a  fisherman  was  going  out  in  his 
catamaran  to  fish  outside  the  Madras  harbour,  and  was 
washed  off  his  craft,  and  dashed  violently  against  a  rock. 
Death  was  instantaneous.  Of  the  catamaran,  the  follow- 
ing account  is  given  by  Colonel  W.  Campbell.*  "  Of 
all  the  extraordinary  craft  which  the  ingenuity  of  man 
has  ever  invented,  a  Madras  catamaran  is  the  most 
extraordinary,  the  most  simple,  and  yet,  in  proper  hands, 
the  most  efficient.  It  is  merely  three  rough  logs  of 
wood,  firmly  lashed  together  with  ropes  formed  from  the 
inner  bark  of  the  cocoanut  tree.  Upon  this  one,  two, 
or  three  men,  according  to  the  size  of  the  catamaran,  sit 
on  their  heels  in  a  kneeling  posture,  and,  defying  wind 
and  weather,  make  their  way  through  the  raging  surf 
which  beats  upon  the  coast,  and  paddle  out  to  sea  at  times 
when  no  other  craft  can  venture  to  face  it.  At  a  little 
distance,  the  slight  fabric  on  which  these  adventurous 
mariners  float  becomes  invisible,  and  a  fleet  of  them 
approaching  the  land  presents  the  absurd  appearance  of 
a  host  of  savage-looking  natives  wading  out  towards  the 
ship,  up  to  their  middle  in  water."  "  A  catamaran," 
Lady  Dufferin  writes,!  in  an  account  of  a  state  arrival 
at  Madras,  "  is  two  logs  of  wood  lashed  together,  form- 
ing a  very  small  and  narrow  raft.  The  rower  wears  a 
'fool's  cap,'  in  which  he  carries  letters  (also  betel  and 
tobacco),  and,  when  he  encounters  a  big  wave,  he  leaves 
his  boat,  slips  through  the  wave  himself,  and  picks  up 
his  catamaran  on  the  other  side  of  it.  Some  very  large 
deep  barges   (masula  boats),  the  planks  of  which  are 

*  My  Indian  Journal,  1864.  t  Our  Viceregal  Life  in  India,  iS 


sewn  together  to  give  elasticity,  and  the  interstices 
stuffed  with  straw,  came  out  for  us,  with  a  guard  of 
honour  of  the  mosquito  fleet,  as  the  catamarans  are 
called,  on  either  side  of  them  ;  two  of  the  fool's  cap 
men,  and  a  flag  as  big  as  the  boat  itself,  on  each  one." 
The  present  day  masula  or  mussoola  boat,  or  surf 
boat  of  the  Coromandel  Coast,  is  of  the  same  build  as 
several  centuries  ago.  It  is  recorded,*  in  1673,  that 
"  I  went  ashore  in  a  Mussoola,  a  boat  wherein  ten 
men  paddle,  the  two  aftermost  of  whom  are  the  Steers- 
men, using  their  Paddles  instead  of  a  Rudder :  The 
Boat  is  not  strengthened  with  knee-timber,  as  ours  are ; 
the  bended  Planks  are  sowed  together  with  Rope-yarn 
of  the  Cocoe,  and  calked  with  Dammar  so  artificially 
that  it  yields  to  every  ambitious  surf.  Otherwise  we 
could  not  get  ashore,  the  Bar  knocking  in  pieces  all  that 
are  inflexible."  The  old  records  of  Madras  contain 
repeated  references  to  Europeans  being  drowned  from 
overturning  of  masula  boats  in  the  surf,  through  which 
a  landing  had  to  be  effected  before  the  harbour  was 

In  1907,  two  Madras  fishermen  were  invested  with 
silver  wrist  bangles,  bearing  a  suitable  inscription,  which 
were  awarded  by  the  Government  in  recognition  of  their 
bravery  in  saving  the  lives  of  a  number  of  boatmen 
during  a  squall  in  the  harbour. 

The  following  are  the  fishes,  which  are  caught  by 
the  fishermen  off  Madras  and  eaten  by  Europeans  : — 

Cybium  guttatum,  BL  Schn.  Seir. 

Cybium  Commersonii,  Lacep.  Seir. 

Cybium  lanceo latum,  Cuv.  &  Val.  Seir. 

Sillago  sihama,  Forsk.     Whiting. 

*  Roe  and  Fryer.     Travels  in  India  in  the  seventeenth  century. 


Stromateus  cinereus,  Block. — 
Immature,  silver  pomfret. 
Adult,  grey  pomfret. 

Stromateus  niger.  Block.     Black  pomfret. 

Mugal  subvirldis,  Cuv.  &  Val.     Mullet. 

Psettodes  erumei,  Bl.  Sckn.     *  Sole.' 

Lates  calcarlfer,   Block.     Cock-up ;    the    begti  of 

Lutjanus  roseus.  Day. 

Lutjanus  marginatus,  Cuv.  &  Val. 

Polynemus  tetradactylus,  Skaw. 

Chorinemus  lysan,  Forsk. 

'  Whitebait.' 
The  Pattanavans  are  Saivites,  but  also  worship  vari- 
ous minor  gods  and  Grama  Devatas  (village  deities). 
In  some  places,  they  regard  Kuttiyandavan  as  their 
special  sea  god.  To  him  animal  sacrifices  are  not  made, 
but  goats  are  sacrificed  to  Sembu  Virappan  or  Minnodum 
Pillai,  an  attendant  on  Kuttiyandavan.  In  Tanjore,  the 
names  of  the  sea  gods  are  Pavadairayan  and  Padaitha- 
laidaivam.  Before  setting  out  on  a  fishing  expedition, 
the  Pattanavans  salute  the  god,  the  sea,  and  the  nets, 
In  the  Tanjore  district,  they  repair  their  nets  once  in 
eight  days,  and,  before  they  go  out  fishing,  pray  to  their 
gods  to  favour  them  with  a  big  catch.  On  a  fixed  day, 
they  make  offerings  to  the  gods  on  their  return  from 
fishing.  The  gods  Pavadairayan  and  Padaithalaidaivam 
are  represented  by  large  conical  heaps  of  wet  sand  and 
mud,  and  Ayyanar,  Ellamma,  Kuttiyandavar,  Muthyal- 
routhar  and  Kiliyendhi  by  smaller  heaps.  At  the  Masi- 
makam  festival,  the  Pattanavans  worship  their  gods  on 
the  sea-shore.  The  names  Jattan  and  Jatti  are  given 
to  children  during  the  Jatre  or  periodic  festival  of  the 
village  goddesses. 


The  Pattanavans  afford  a  good  example  of  a  caste, 
in  which  the  time-honoured  village  council  (panchayat) 
is  no  empty,  powerless  body.     For  every  settlement  or 
village  there  are  one  or  more  headmen  called  Yejama- 
nan,  who  are  assisted  by  a  Thandakaran  and  a  Paraiyan 
Chalavathi.    All  these  offices  are  hereditary.    Questions 
connected  with  the  community,  such  as  disrespect  to 
elders,  breach  of  social  etiquette,  insult,  abuse,  assault, 
adultery,  or  drinking  or  eating  with  men  of  lower  caste, 
are  enquired  into  by  the  council.     Even  when  disputes 
are  settled  in  courts  of  law,  they  must  come  before  the 
council.     Within  the    community,  the   headman    is   all 
powerful,  and  his  decision  is,  in  most  instances,  consi- 
dered final.     If,  however,  his  verdict  is  not  regarded  as 
equitable,  the  case  is  referred  to  a  caste  headman,  who 
holds  sway  over  a  group  of  villages.     No  ceremony  may 
be  performed  without  the  sanction  of  the  local  headman, 
and  the  details  of  ceremonies,  except  the  feasting,  are 
arranged  by  the  headman  and  the  Thandakaran.     In  the 
case  of  a  proposed  marriage,  the  match  is  broken  off  if 
the  headman  objects  to  it.     He  should  be  present  at  the 
funeral  rites,  and  see  that  the  details  thereof  are  properly 
carried  out.     It  is  the  duty  of  the  Chalavathi  to  convey 
the  news  of  a  death  to  the  relations.     Should  he  come 
to  the  shore  when  the  fishes  are  heaped  up,  he  has  the 
right   to  take  a    few   thereof  as    his   perquisite.     The 
Thandakaran,    among    other   duties,     has    to   summon 
council  meetings.     When  the  members  of  council  have 
assembled,  he  ushers  in  the  parties  who  have  to  appear 
before  it,  and  salutes  the  assembly  by  prostrating  himself 
on  the  floor.     The  parties  take  a  bit  of  straw,  or  other 
object,  and  place  it  before  the  headman  in  token  that  they 
are  willing  to  abide  by  the  decision  of  the  council.     This 
formality  is  called  placing  the  agreement  (muchchilika). 


The  consent  of  the  maternal    uncles    is   necessary 
before  a  pair  can  be  united  in  matrimony.     When  the 
wedding  day  has   been  fixed,   the    bridegroom's  party 
distribute  grama  thambulam  (village  pan-supari  or  betel) 
to  the  headman  and  villagers.     The  marriage  milk-post 
is  made  of  Mimusops  hexandra,  Erythrina  indica,  Casua- 
rina  equisetifolia,  the  green  wood  of  some  other  tree,  or 
even  a  pestle.     In  one  form  of  the   marriage  ceremony, 
which  varies  in  detail  according  to  locality,  the  bride- 
groom, on  the  arrival  of  the  bride  at  the  pandal  (booth), 
puts  on  the   sacred  thread,   and  the   Brahman   purohit 
makes  the  sacred  fire,  and  pours  ghi  (clarified  butter) 
into  it.     The  bridegroom  ties  the  tali  round  the  bride's 
neck,   and  the  maternal   uncles  tie   flat  silver  or  gold 
plates,  called  pattam,  on  the  foreheads  of  the  contract- 
ing couple.     Rings  are  put  on  their  second  toes  by  the 
brother-in-law  of  the  bridegroom  and  the  maternal  uncle 
of  the  bride.     Towards  evening,  the  sacred  thread,  the 
threads   which  have  been   tied    to    the  marriage    pots 
and  the  milk-post,  and  grain  seedlings  used  at  the  cere- 
mony, are  thrown  into  the  sea.     Some  Pattanavans  allow 
a  couple  to  live  together  as   man  and  wife  after  the 
betrothal,  but  before  the  marriage  ceremony.     This  is, 
however,  on   condition  that  the   latter  is   performed  as 
soon  as  it  is  convenient.     The  remarriage  of  widows  is 
freely  permitted.     No  marriage   pandal  is  erected,  and 
the  bridegroom,  or  a  female  relation,  ties  the  tali  on 
the  bride's  neck  within  the  house.     Such  marriage  is, 
therefore,  called  naduvittu   (interior  of  the  house)  tali. 
When  a  woman,  who    has    been  guilty  of  adultery,   is 
remarried,  a  turmeric  string  is  substituted  for  the  golden 
tali,  and  is  tied  on  the  bride's  neck  by  a  woman. 

Some  Pattanavans  have  adopted  the  custom  of  bury- 
ing their  dead   in  a   seated   posture    (samathi).     If  a 



corpse  is  cremated,  fire  is  carried  to  the  burning-ground 

by  a  barber.     When  the  corpse  has  been  laid  on  the 

pyre,  rice  is  thrown  over  it.     The  son,  accompanied  by 

a  barber  and  a  Panisavan  or  washerman,  and  carrying 

a  pot  of  water  on  his  shoulder,  goes  thrice  round  the 

pyre.     At  the  third  round,  the  Panisavan  or  washerman 

makes  holes  in  the  pot,    and  it    is  thrown  away.     On 

the  day  of  the  funeral,  all  the  agnates  shave  their  heads. 

On  the  following  day,  they  go  to  the  burial  or  burning 

ground  with  tender  cocoanuts,   milk,   cakes,    etc.,    and 

Arichandra,    who  presides    over   the   burial-ground,    is 

worshipped.     Milk    is   then  poured  over   the  grave,  or 

the    remains  of  the   bones,  which  are   thrown  into  the 

sea.     On  the  night  of  the  fifteenth  day,  Panisavans  blow 

the  conch  and  horn,  and  red  cloths  are  presented  to  the 

widow  of  the  deceased  by  her  relations.     At  about  4 

A.M.,   a  white  cloth  is  thrown  on  her  neck,  and  the  tali 

string  is  cut  by  an  old  woman.     The  tali  is  removed 

therefrom,  and  dropped  into  a  new  pot  filled  with  water. 

Hence,  a  form  of  abuse  among   Pattanavan  women  is, 

May   your    tali  be   snapped,   and   thrown    into    water. 

The  tali  is  removed  from  the  pot,  which  is  thrown  into 

the  sea.     The  tali  is  laid  on  a  dish  containing  milk,  and 

all  those  who  visit  the  widow  must  set  eyes  on  it  before 

they  see  her. 

In  the  city  of  Madras,  the  Pattanavans  have  the 
privilege  of  supplying  bearers  at  temples,  and  the 
atmosphere  surrounding  them  as  they  carry  the  idols 
on  their  sturdy  shoulders  through  Triplicane  is  said  to 
be  "  redolent  of  brine  and  the  toddy  shop." 

In  a  judgment  of  the  High  Court  of  Judicature, 
Madras,  it  is  recorded  that,  in  the  eighteenth  century, 
some  boat-owners  and  boatmen  belonging  to  the 
Curukula  Vamsha  or  Varunakula    Mudali    caste,  who 

PATTAPU  1 86 

were  residing  at  Chepauk  in  the  city  of  Madras,  had 
embraced  Christianity,  and  worshipped  in  a  chapel, 
which  had  been  erected  by  voluntary  contributions.  In 
1799  the  site  of  their  village  was  required  for  public 
purposes,  and  they  obtained  in  lieu  of  it  a  grant  of  land 
at  Royapuram,  where  a  chapel  was  built.  Partly  by 
taxes  levied  on  boatmen,  and  partly  by  tolls  they  were 
allowed  to  impose  on  persons  for  frequenting  the 
Royapuram  bazar,  a  fund  was  formed  to  provide  for 
their  spiritual  wants,  and  this  fund  was  administered  by 
the  Marine  Board.  In  1829,  a  portion  of  the  fund  was 
expended  in  the  erection  of  the  church  of  St.  Peter, 
Royapuram,  and  the  fund  was  transferred  to  Govern- 
ment. The  administration  of  the  fund  has  been  the 
source  of  litigation  in  the  High  Court.* 

It  is  noted  by  Mrs.  F.  E.  Penny  that  some  of  the 
fisherfolk  "adopted  Xavier  as  their  special  patron 
saint,  and,  as  time  passed,  almost  deified  him.  In  the 
present  day,  they  appeal  to  him  in  times  of  danger, 
crying  *  Xavier  !  Xavier  !  Xavier  ! '  in  storm  and  peril. 
Even  if  they  are  unfortunate  in  their  catch  when 
fishing,  they  turn  to  their  saint  for  succour." 

As  a  numismatist,  I  resent  the  practice  resorted  to 
by  some  fishermen  of  melting  old  lead  coins,  and 
converting  them  into  sinkers  for  their  nets. 

Pattapu.— Pattapu  for  Tulivandlu  is  a  name  for 
Tamil  Pattanavans,  who  have  migrated  to  the  Telugu 
country.  Pattapu  also  occurs  as  a  sub-division  of 

Pattar.— The  Pattars  are  Tamil  Brahmans,  who 
have  settled  in  Malabar.  The  name  is  said  to  be 
derived  from  the  Sanskrit  bhatta.     It  is  noted,  in  the 

*  See  Civil  Suit  No.  102  of  1880. 


Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  that  Pattar  (teacher)  has 
been  recently  assumed  as  a  title  by  some  Nokkans  in 
Tanjore.     {See  Brahman.) 

Pattariar. — Recorded,  in  the  Madras  Census  Report, 
1901,  as  a  Tamil  corruption  of  Pattu  Saliyan  (silk- 
weaver).  Pattariar  or  Pattalia  is  a  synonym  of  Tamil- 
speaking  Saliyans. 

Pattegara  (headman). — An  exogamous  sept  of 

Pattindla  (silk  house). — An  exogamous  sept  of 
Tota  Balija. 

Pattola  Menon. — Recorded,  in  the  Cochin  Census 
Report,  1 90 1,  as  a  sub-caste  of  Nayars,  who  are  account- 
ants in  aristocratic  families. 

Pattukuruppu. — Recorded  in  the  Travancore 
Census  Report,  1901,  as  synonymous  with  Vatti,  a  sub- 
division of  Nayar. 

Pattu  Sale.-^A  sub-division  of  Sales,  who  weave 
silk  (pattu)  fabrics. 

Pattu vitan. — Recorded,  in  the  Travancore  Census 
Report,  1 90 1,  as  a  sub-division  of  Nayar. 

Patvegara.— The  Patvegaras  or  Pattegaras  (pattu, 
silk)  of  South  Canara  are  described  by  Mr.  H.  A. 
Stuart  *  as  "  a  Canarese  caste  of  silk  weavers.  They 
are  Hindus,  and  worship  both  Siva  and  Vishnu,  but 
their  special  deity  is  Durga  Paramesvari  at  Barkur. 
They  wear  the  sacred  thread,  and  employ  Brahmans 
for  ceremonial  purposes.  They  are  governed  by  a  body 
called  the  ten  men,  and  pay  allegiance  to  the  guru  of 
the  Ramachandra  math  (religious  institution).  They  are 
divided  into  balis  (septs)  and  a  man  may  not  marry 
within  his  own  bali.     Polygamy  is  allowed  only  when  a 

*  Manual  of  the  South  Canara  district. 


wife  is  barren,  or  suffers  from  some  incurable  disease, 
such  as  leprosy.  The  girls  are  married  in  infancy,  and 
the  binding  portion  of  the  ceremony  is  called  dhare  {see 
Bant).  Widow  marriage  is  not  permitted,  and  divorce 
is  only  allowed  in  the  case  of  an  adulterous  wife.  They 
follow  the  ordinary  Hindu  law  of  inheritance.  The 
dead  are  cremated.  The  sradha  (memorial)  ceremony 
is  in  use,  and  the  Mahalaya  ceremony  for  the  propitia- 
tion of  ancestors  in  general  is  performed  annually. 
Female  ancestors  are  also  worshipped  every  year  at  a 
ceremony  called  vaddap,  when  meals  are  given  to 
married  women.  They  eat  fish  but  not  meat,  and  the 
use  of  alcohol  is  not  permitted." 

In  the  Mysore  Census  Report,  1891,  the  Patvegars 
are  described  as  "  silk  weavers  who  speak  a  corrupt 
Marathi  conglomerate  of  Guzarati  and  Hindi.  They 
worship  all  the  Hindu  deities,  especially  the  female 
energy  under  the  name  of  Sakti,  to  which  a  goat  is 
sacrificed  on  the  night  of  the  Dasara  festival,  a  Musal- 
man  slaughtering  the  animal.  After  the  sacrifice,  the 
family  of  the  Patvegar  partake  of  the  flesh.  Many  of 
their  females  are  naturally  fair  and  handsome,  but  lose 
their  beauty  from  early  marriage  and  precocity."  A  few 
Pattegaras,  who  speak  a  corrupt  form  of  Marathi,  are  to 
be  found  in  the  Anantapur  district. 

Pavalamkatti  (wearers  of  corals). — A  sub-divi- 
sion of  Konga  Vellala. 

Pavini.^5^^  Vayani. 

Payyampati.— Recorded,  in  the  Travancore  Census 
Report,  1 90 1,  as  a  sub-division  of  Nayar. 

Pedakanti. — Pedakanti  or  Pedaganti  is  the  name 
of  a  sub-division  of  Kapu.  It  is  said  by  some  to  be 
derived  from  a  place  called  Pedagallu.  By  others  it  is 
derived    from    peda,    turned    aside,  and    kamma,   eye, 

1 89  PENTIYA 

indicating  one  who  turns  his  eyes  away  from  a  person 
who  speaks  to  him.  Yet  another  suggestion  is  that  it 
means  stiff-necked. 

Pedda    (big). — A    sub-division    of    Boya,    Bagata, 
Konda  Dora,  Pattapu,  and  Velama. 

Peddammavandlu. — A  fancy  name  taken  by  some 
Telugu  beggars. 

Pedditi.— A  sub-division  of  Golla,  some  members  of 
which  earn  a  livelihood  by  begging  and  flattery. 

Pegula      (intestines). — An      exogamous     sept     of 

Pekkan.— A  division  of  Toda. 

Pendukal  (women). — A  name  applied  to  Deva-dasis 
in  Travancore. 

Pengu.— A  sub-division  of  Poroja. 

Pennegara.— Konkani-speaking      rice-beaters      in 
South  Canara. 

Pentiya.— The  Pentiyas  also  call  themselves  Holuva 
and  Halaba  or  Halba.  In  the  Madras  Census  Report, 
1 90 1,  they  are  called  Pantia  as  well  as  Pentiya,  and 
described  as  Oriya  betel-leaf  (panno)  sellers.  Their 
occupation,  in  the  Jeypore  Agency  tracts,  is  that  of 
cultivators.  According  to  Mr.  C.  Hayavadana  Rao, 
to  whom  I  am  indebted  for  the  following  note,  numbers 
of  them  migrated  thither  from  Bustar,  and  settled  at 
Pentikonna,  and  are  hence  called  Pentikonaya  or  Pentiya. 
Their  language  is  Halba,  which  is  easily  understood  by 
those  who  speak  Oriya.  They  are  divided  into  two 
endogamous  sections,  called  Bodo  (big  or  genuine),  and 
Sanno  (little),  of  whom  the  latter  are  said  to  be  illegiti- 
mate descendants  of  the  former.  The  Bodos  are  further 
sub-divided  into  a  series  of  septs,  e.g.,  Kurum  (tortoise), 
Bhag  (tiger),  Nag  (cobra),  and  Surya  (sun).  The  caste 
is  highly  organized,  and  the  head  of  a  local  centre  is 


called  B hatha  Nayako.  He  is  assisted  by  a  Pradhani, 
an  Umriya  Nayako,  and  Dolayi.  The  caste  messenger 
is  called  Cholano,  and  he  carries  a  silver  baton  when  he 
summons  the  castemen  to  a  meeting.  An  elaborate 
ceremony  is  performed  when  a  person,  who  has  been 
tried  by  the  caste  council,  is  to  be  received  back  into 
the  caste.  He  is  accompanied  to  the  bank  of  a  stream, 
where  his  tongue  is  burnt  with  a  gold  or  silver  wire  or 
ornament  by  the  Bhatha  Nayako,  and  some  offerings 
from  the  Jagannatha  temple  at  Puri  are  given  to  him. 
He  is  then  taken  home,  and  provides  a  feast,  at  which 
the  Nayako  has  the  privilege  of  eating  first.  He  has 
further  to  make  a  present  of  cloths  to  the  assembled 
elders,  and  the  four  heads  of  the  caste  receive  a  larger 
quantity  than  the  others.  The  feast  over,  he  is  again 
taken,  carrying  some  cooked  rice,  to  the  stream,  and  with 
it  pushed  therein.  This  ceremonial  bath  frees  him  from 

Girls  are  married  either  before  or  after  puberty.  A 
man  can  claim  his  paternal  aunt's  daughter  in  marriage. 
The  bridegroom's  party  proceed,  with  the  bridegroom, 
to  the  bride's  village,  and  take  up  their  abode  in  a 
separate  house.  They  then  take  three  cloths  for  the 
bride's  mother,  three  rupees  for  her  father,  and  a  cloth 
and  two  annas  for  each  of  her  brothers,  and  present  them 
together  with  rice,  liquor,  and  other  articles.  Pandals 
(booths)  are  erected  in  front  of  the  quarters  of  the  bridal 
couple,  that  of  the  bridegroom  being  made  of  nine,  and 
that  of  the  bride  of  five  sal  {Skorea  robusta)  poles,  to 
which  a  pot  containing  myrabolams  {Terminalia  fruits) 
and  rice  is  tied.  The  couple  bathe,  and  the  bridegroom 
proceeds  to  the  house  of  the  bride.  The  Desari,  who 
officiates,  dons  the  sacred  thread,  and  divides  the  pandal 
into  two  by  means  of  a  screen  or  curtain.     The  couple 

19 1  PERIKE 

go  seven  times  round  the  pandal,  and  the  screen  is 
removed.  They  then  enter  the  pandal,  and  the  Desari 
links  their  little  fingers  together.  The  day's  ceremony 
concludes  with  a  feast.  On  the  following  day,  the  bride  is 
conducted  to  the  house  of  the  bridegroom,  and  they 
sprinkle  each  other  with  turmeric  water.  They  then 
bathe  in  a  stream  or  river.  Another  feast  is  held,  with 
much  drinking,  and  is  followed  by  a  wild  dance.  The 
remarriage  of  widows  is  permitted,  and  a  younger  brother 
may  marry  the  widow  of  his  elder  brother.  The  dead 
are  burnt,  and  death  pollution  is  observed  for  ten  days, 
during  which  the  relatives  of  the  deceased  are  fed  by 
members  of  another  sept.  On  the  tenth  day  a  caste 
feast  takes  place. 

The  Pentiyas  are  said  *  to  distribute  rice,  and  other 
things,  to  Brahmans,  once  a  year  on  the  new-moon  day 
in  the  month  of  Bhadrapadam  (September-October),  and 
to  worship  a  female  deity  named  Kamilli  on  Saturdays. 
No  one,  I  am  informed,  other,  I  presume,  than  a  Pentiya, 
would  take  anything  from  a  house  where  she  is  worship- 
ped, lest  the  goddess  should  accompany  him,  and  require 
him  to  become  her  devotee. 

The  caste  title  is  Nayako. 

Peraka  (tile). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Devanga. 

Perike.^This  word  is  defined,  in  the  Madras 
Census  Report,  1901,  as  meaning  literally  a  gunny  bag, 
and  the  Perikes  are  summed  up  as  being  a  Telugu  caste 
of  gunny  bag  (goni)  weavers,  corresponding  to  the 
Janappans  of  the  Tamil  districts.  Gunny  bag  is  the 
popular  and  trading  name  of  the  coarse  sacking  and 
sacks  made  from  the  fibre  of  jute,  much  used  in  Indian 
trade.      It  is  noted,   in  the  Census   Report,    1891,  that 

•  Madras  Census    Report,  1901. 

PERIKE  192 

"the  Perikes  claim  to  be  a  separate  caste,  but  they 
seem  to  be  in  reab'ty  a  sub-division,  and  not  a  very 
exalted  sub-division,  of  Balijas,  being  in  fact  identical 
with  the  Uppu  (salt)  Balijas.  Their  hereditary  occupa- 
tion is  carrying  salt,  grain,  etc.,  on  bullocks  and  donkeys 
in  perikes  or  packs.  Perike  is  found  among  the 
sub-divisions  of  both  Kavarai  and  Balija.  Some  of 
them,  however,  have  attained  considerable  wealth,  and 
now  claim  to  be  Kshatriyas,  saying  that  they  are  the 
descendants  of  the  Kshatriyas  who  ran  away  (piriki, 
a  coward)  from  the  persecution  of  Parasurama.  Others 
again  say  they  are  Kshatriyas  who  went  into  retirement, 
and  made  hills  (giri)  their  abode  (puri)."  These  Perike 
*  Kshatriyas '  are  known  as  Puragiri  Kshatriya  and  Giri 
Razu.  The  Periki  Balijas  are  described,  in  the  Vizaga- 
patam  Manual,  as  chiefly  carrying  on  cultivation  and 
trade,  and  some  of  them  are  said  to  hold  a  high  position 
at  '  the  Presidency '  (Madras)  and  in  the  Vizagapatam 

Perike  women  appear  to  have  frequently  committed 
sati  (or  suttee)  on  the  death  of  their  husbands  in  former 
days,  and  the  names  of  those  who  thus  sacrificed  their 
lives  are  still  held  in  reverence.  A  peculiar  custom 
among  the  Perikes  is  the  erection  of  big  square 
structures  (brindavanam),  in  which  a  tulsi  {Ocimum 
sanctum)  is  planted,  on  the  spot  where  the  ashes  of  the 
dead  are  buried  after  cremation.  I  am  informed  that  a 
fine  series  of  these  structures  may  be  seen  at  Chipura- 
palli,  close  to  Vizianagram.  As  a  mark  of  respect  to 
the  dead,  passers-by  usually  place  a  lac  bangle  or  flowers 
thereon.  The  usual  titles  of  the  Perikes  are  Anna  and 
Ayya,  but  some  style  themselves  Rao  ( =  Raya,  king) 
or  Rayadu,  in  reference  to  fheir  alleged  Kshatriya 

193  PERIKE 

For  the  following  note  on  the  Perikes  of  the  Godavari 
district,  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  F.  R.  Hemingway.  "  Like 
some  of  the  Kammas,  they  claim. to  be  of  Kshatriya 
stock,  and  say  they  are  of  the  lineage  of  Parasu  Rama, 
but  were  driven  out  by  him  for  kidnapping  his  sister, 
while  pretending  to  be  gunny-bag  weavers.  They  say 
that  they  were  brought  to  this  country  by  king  Nala  of 
the  Mahabharata,  in  gratitude  for  their  having  taken  care 
of  his  wife  Damayanti  when  he  quitted  her  during  his 
misfortunes.  They  support  the  begging  caste  of  Varugu 
Bhattas,  who,  they  say,  supported  them  during  their 
exile,  and  to  whom  they  gave  a  sanad  (deed  of  grant) 
authorising  them  to  demand  alms.  These  people  go 
round  the  Perike  houses  for  their  dues  every  year.  The 
Pisu  Perikes,  who  still  weave  gunny-bags,  are  said  not  to 
belong  to  the  caste  proper,  members  of  which  style 
themselves  Racha  Perikes. 

"  The  Perikes  say  that,  like  the  Komatis,  they  have 
loi  gotras.  Their  marriage  ceremonies  are  peculiar. 
On  the  day  of  the  wedding,  the  bride  and  bridegroom  are 
made  to  fast,  as  also  are  three  male  relatives,  whom  they 
call  suribhaktas.  At  the  marriage,  the  couple  sit  on  a 
gunny-bag,  and  another  gunny,  on  which  a  representa- 
tion of  the  god  Mailar  is  drawn  or  painted,  is  spread 
between  them.  The  same  god  is  drawn  on  two  pots, 
and  these,  and  also  a  third  pot,  are  filled  with  rice  and 
dhal  {Cajanus  indicus),  which  are  cooked  by  two  married 
women.  The  food  is  then  offered  to  Mailar.  Next,  the 
three  suribhaktas  take  loi  cotton  threads,  fasten  them 
together,  and  tie  seven  knots  in  them.  The  bride  and 
bridegroom  are  given  cloths  which  have  been  partly 
immersed  in  water  coloured  with  turmeric  and  chunam 
(lime),  and  the  suribhaktas  are  fed  with  the  rice  and  dhal 
cooked  in  the  pots.  The  couple  are  then  taken  round 
VI- 1 3 

PERIYA  194 

the  village  in  procession,  and,  on  their  return,  the  knotted 
cotton  threads  are  tied  round  the  bride's  neck  instead 
of  a  tali. 

Some  Perikes  style  themselves  Sathu  vandlu,  mean- 
ing a  company  of  merchants  or  travellers. 

Perike  Muggula  is  the  name  of  a  class  of  Telugu 
mendicants  and  exorcists. 

Periya  (big). — Periya  or  Periyanan  has  been  re- 
corded as  a  sub-division  of  Karalan,  Kunnuvan,  Occhan, 
and  Pattanavan.  The  equivalent  Peru  or  Perum  occurs 
as  a  sub-division  of  the  Malayalam  Kollans  and  Vannans 
and  Perim  of  Kanikars.  Periya  illom  is  the  name  of  an 
exogamous  illom  of  Kanikars  in  Travancore. 

Perugadannaya  (bandicoot  rat  sept). — An  exoga- 
mous sept  of  Bant. 

Perum  Tali  (big  tali). — A  sub-division  of  Idaiyan, 
and  of  Kaikolans,  whose  women  wear  a  big  tali  (marriage 

Perumal.— -Perumal  is  a  synonym  of  Vishnu,  and 
the  name  is  taken  by  some  Pallis  who  are  staunch 
Vaishnavites.  A  class  of  mendicants,  who  travel  about 
exhibiting  performing  bulls  in  the  southern  part  of  the 
Madras  Presidency,  is  known  as  Perumal  Madukkaran  or 
Perumal  Erudukkaran.  Perumalathillom,  meaning  appa- 
rently big  mountain  house,  is  an  exogamous  sept  or  illom 
of  the  Kanikars  of  Travancore. 

Pesala  (seeds  of  Phaseolus  Mungo  :  green  gram). — 
An  exogamous  sept  of  Jogi. 

Peta  (street). — A  sub-division  of  Balija. 

Pettigeyavaru  (box). — A  sub-division  of  Gangadi- 
kara  Vakkaliga. 

Pichiga  (sparrow). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Boya 
and  Devanga.  The  equivalent  Pital  occurs  as  a  sept  of 


Pichigunta.— The  name  Pichigunta  means  literally 
an  assembly  of  beggars,  who  are  described  *  as  being, 
in  the  Telugu  country,  a  class  of  mendicants,  who 
are  herbalists,  and  physic  people  for  fever,  stomach- 
ache, and  other  ailments.  They  beat  the  village  drums, 
relate  stories  and  legends,  and  supply  the  place  of  a 
Herald's  Office,  as  they  have  a  reputation  for  being 
learned  in  family  histories,  and  manufacture  pedigrees 
and  gotras  (house  names)  for  Kapus,  Kammas,  Gollas, 
and  others. 

The  Picchai  or  Pinchikuntar  are  described  in  the 
Salem  Manual  as  "  servants  to  the  Kudianavars  or 
cultivators — a  name  commonly  assumed  by  Vellalas  and 
Pallis.  The  story  goes  that  a  certain  Vellala  had  a 
hundred  and  two  children,  of  whom  only  one  was  a 
female.  Of  the  males,  one  was  lame,  and  his  hundred 
brothers  made  a  rule  that  one  would  provide  him  with 
one  kolagam  of  grain  and  one  fanam  (a  coin)  each  year. 
They  got  him  married  to  a  Telugu  woman  of  a  different 
caste,  and  the  musicians  who  attended  the  ceremony 
were  paid  nothing,  the  brothers  alleging  that,  as  the 
bridegroom  was  a  cripple,  the  musicians  should  offici- 
ate from  charitable  motives.  The  descendants  of  this 
married  pair,  having  no  caste  of  their  own,  became 
known  as  Picchi  or  Pinchikuntars  (beggars,  or  lame). 
They  are  treated  as  kudipinnai  (inferior)  by  Vellalas, 
and  to  the  present  day  receive  their  prescribed  miras 
(fee)  from  the  Vellala  descendants  of  the  hundred 
brothers,  to  whom,  on  marriage  and  other  festivals,  they 
do  service  by  relating  the  genealogies  of  such  Vellalas 
as  they  are  acquainted  with.  Some  serve  the  Vellalas 
in  the  fields,  and  others  live  by  begging."  * 

*  Manuals  of  Nellore  and  Kurnool. 
VI-I3  B 


The  caste  beggars  of  the  Tottiyans  are  known  as 

Pidakala  (cow-dung  cakes  or  bratties). — An  exoga- 
mous  sept  of  Devanga.  Dried  cow-dung  cakes  are 
largely  used  by  natives  as  fuel,  and  may  be  seen  stuck 
on  to  the  walls  of  houses. 

Pidaran. — A  section  of  Ambalavasis,  who,  according 
to  Mr.  Logan*  "drink  liqour,  exorcise  devils,  and  are 
worshippers  of  Bhadrakali  or  of  Sakti.  The  name  is 
also  applied  to  snake-catchers,  and  it  was  probably  con- 
ferred on  the  caste  owing  to  the  snake  being  an  emblem 
of  the  human  passion  embodied  in  the  deities  they 

Pilapalli. — The  Pilapallis  are  a  small  caste  or  commu- 
nity in  Travancore,  concerning  which  Mr.  S.  Subramanya 
Aiyar  writes  as  follows. t  "The  following  sketch  will 
show  what  trifling  circumstances  are  sufficient  in  this 
land  of  Parasurama  to  call  a  new  caste  into  existence. 
The  word  Pilapally  is  supposed  to  be  a  corruption  of 
Belal  Thalli,  meaning  forcibly  ejected.  It  therefore  con- 
tains, as  though  in  a  nutshell,  the  history  of  the  origin 
of  this  little  community,  which  it  is  used  to  designate. 
In  the  palmy  days  of  the  Chempakasseri  Rajas,  about  the 
year  858  M.E.,  there  lived  at  the  court  of  the  then  ruling 
Prince  at  Ambalappuzha  a  Namburi  Brahman  who  stood 
high  in  the  Prince's  favour,  and  who  therefore  became  an 
eye-sore  to  all  his  fellow  courtiers.  The  envy  and  hatred 
of  the  latter  grew  to  such  a  degree  that  one  day  they  put 
their  heads  together  to  devise  a  plan  which  should  at 
once  strip  him  of  all  influence  at  court,  and  humble  him 
in  the  eyes  of  the  public.  The  device  hit  upon  was  a 
strange  one,  and  characteristic  of  that  dim  and  distant 

*  Manual  of  Malabar.  f  Malabar  Quarterly  Review.  V,  4,  1907. 


past.  The  Namburi  was  the  custodian  of  all  presents 
made  to  the  Prince,  and  as  such  it  was  a  part  of  his  daily 
work  to  arrange  the  articles  presented  in  their  proper 
places.  It  was  arranged  that  one  day  a  dead  fish,  beauti- 
fully tied  up  and  covered,  should  be  placed  among  the 
presents  laid  before  the  Prince.  The  victim  of  the  plot, 
little  suspecting  there  was  treachery  in  the  air,  removed 
all  the  presents  as  usual  with  his  own  hand.  H  is  enemies 
at  court,  who  were  but  waiting  for  an  opportunity  of 
humbling  him  to  the  dust,  thereupon  caused  the  bundle 
to  be  examined  before  the  Prince,  when  it  became  evident 
that  it  contained  a  dead  fish.  Now,  for  a  Namburi  to 
handle  a  dead  fish  was,  according  to  custom,  sufficient 
to  make  him  lose  caste.  On  the  strength  of  this  argu- 
ment, the  Prince,  who  was  himself  a  Brahmin,  was  easily 
prevailed  upon  to  put  the  Namburi  out  of  the  pale  of 
caste,  and  the  court  favourite  was  immediately  excom- 
municated. There  is  another  and  a  slightly  different 
version  of  the  story,  according  to  which  the  Namburi  in 
question  was  the  hereditary  priest  of  the  royal  house, 
to  whom  fell  the  duty  of  removing  and  preserving  the 
gifts.  In  course  of  time  he  grew  so  arrogant  that 
the  Prince  himself  wanted  to  get  rid  of  him,  but,  the 
office  of  the  priest  being  hereditary,  he  did  not  find 
an  easy  way  of  accomplishing  his  cherished  object,  and, 
after  long  deliberation  with  those  at  court  in  whom 
he  could  confide,  came  at  last  to  the  solution  narrated 
above.  It  is  this  forcible  ejection  that  the  expression 
Belal  Thalli  (afterwards  changed  into  Pilapally)  is  said 
to  import  .  .  .  .  It  appears  that  the  unfortunate 
Namburi  had  two  wives,  both  of  whom  elected  to  share 
his  fate.  Accordingly,  the  family  repaired  to  Paravur, 
a  village  near  Kallarkode,  where  their  royal  patron  made 
them  a  gift  of  land.     Although  they  quitted  Ambalapuzha 

PILLAI  198 

for  good,  they  seem  to  have  long  owned  there  a 
madathummuri  (a  room  in  a  series,  in  which  Brahmins 
from  abroad  once  lived  and  traded),  and  are  said  to  be 
still  entitled  daily  to  a  measure  of  palpayasom  from  the 
temple,  a  sweet  pudding  of  milk,  rice  and  sugar,  cele- 
brated all  over  Malabar  for  its  excellence.  The  progeny 
of  the  family  now  count  in  all  about  ninety  members, 
who  live  in  eight  or  nine  different  houses." 

Pillai.— Pillai,  meaning  child,  is  in  the  Tamil  country 
primarily  the  title  of  Vellalas,  but  has,  at  recent  times 
of  census,  been  returned  as  the  title  of  a  number  of 
classes,  which  include  Agamudaiyan,  Ambalakaran,  Golla, 
Idaiyan,  Nayar,  Nokkan,  Panisavan,  Panikkan,  Paraiyan, 
Saiyakkaran,  Sembadavan  and  Senaikkudaiyans.  Pilla 
is  further  used  as  the  title  of  the  male  offspring  of 
Deva-dasis.  Many  Paraiyan  butlers  of  Europeans  have 
assumed  the  title  Pillai  as  an  honorific  suffix  to  their 
name.  So,  too,  have  some  criminal  Koravas,  who  pose 
as  Vellalas. 

Pillaikuttam.^Recorded,  in  the  Manual  of  the 
North  Arcot  district,  as  a  bastard  branch  of  Vaniyan. 

Pillaiyarpatti  (Ganesa  village). — An  exogamous 
section  or  kovil  of  Nattukottai  Chetti. 

Pilli  (cat). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Chembadi,  Mala, 
and  Medara. 

Pindari.^In  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  fifty- 
nine  Pindaris  are  returned  as  a  Bombay  caste  of  personal 
servants.  They  are  more  numerous  in  the  Mysore  pro- 
vince, where  more  than  two  thousand  were  returned  in 
the  same  year  as  being  engaged  in  agriculture  and 
Government  service.  The  Pindaris  were  formerly  cele- 
brated as  a  notorious  class  of  freebooters,  who,  in  the 
seventeenth  century,  attached  themselves  to  the  Mara- 
thas  in  their  revolt  against   Aurangzib,  and  for  a  long 


time  afterwards,  committed  raids  in  all  directions, 
extending  their  operations  to  Southern  India.  It  is  on 
record  that  "  in  a  raid  made  upon  the  coast  extending 
from  Masulipatam  northward,  the  Pindaris  in  ten  days 
plundered  339  villages,  burning  many,  killing  and  wound- 
ing 682  persons,  torturing  3,600,  and  carrying  off  or 
destroying  property  to  the  amount  of  ^250,000."*  They 
were  finally  suppressed,  in  Central  India,  during  the 
Viceroyalty  of  the  Marquis  of  Hastings,  in  18 17. 

Pindi  (flour). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Mala. 

Pinjari  (cotton-cleaner). — A  synonym  for  Dudekula. 
Pinjala  (cotton)  occurs  as  an  exogamous  sept  of  Devanga. 

Pippala  (pepper :  Piper  longum). — An  exogamous 
sept  or  gotra  of  Gamalla  and  Komati. 

Pisharati.— The  Pisharatisor  Pisharodisare  summed 
up  in  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  as  being  a  sub- 
caste  of  Ambalavasis,  which  makes  flower  garlands,  and 
does  menial  service  in  the  temples.  As  regards  their 
origin,  the  legend  runs  to  the  effect  that  a  Swamiyar,  or 
Brahman  ascetic,  once  had  a  disciple  of  the  same  caste, 
who  wished  to  become  a  Sanyasi  or  anchorite.  All  the 
ceremonies  prior  to  shaving  the  head  of  the  novice  were 
completed,  when,  alarmed  at  the  prospect  of  a  cheerless 
life  and  the  severe  austerities  incidental  thereto,  he  made 
himself  scarce.  Pishara  denotes  a  Sanyasi's  pupil,  and 
as  he,  after  running  away,  was  called  Pisharodi,  the 
children  born  to  him  of  a  Parasava  woman  by  a  subse- 
quent marriage  were  called  Pisharatis.  In  his  *  Early 
Sovereigns  of  Travancore,'  Mr.  Sundaram  Pillay  says  that 
the  Pisharati's  "  puzzling  position  among  the  Malabar 
castes,  half  monk  and  half  layman,  is  far  from  being 
accounted  for  by  the  silly  and  fanciful  modern  derivation 

*  Yule  and  Burnell.     Hobson-Jobson. 


of  Pisharakal  plus  Odi,  Pisharakal  being  more  mysterious 
than  Pisharati  itself. "  It  is  suggested  by  him  that 
Pisharati  is  a  corruption  of  Bhattaraka-tiruvadi.  Accord- 
ing to  the  Jati-nirnaya,  the  Bhattarakas  are  a  community 
degraded  from  the  Brahmans  during  the  Treta  Yuga. 
As  far  as  we  are  able  to  gather  from  mediaeval  Travan- 
core  inscriptions,  an  officer  known  as  Pidara-tiruvadi 
was  attached  to  every  temple.  It  is  known  that  he  used 
to  receive  large  perquisites  for  temple  service,  and  that 
extensive  rice-lands  were  given  to  the  Bhattakara  of 
Nelliyur.  It  is  noted,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  Malabar,  that 
**  the  traditional  etymology  of  the  name  Pisharodi  refers 
it  to  a  Sanyasi  novice,  who,  deterred  by  the  prospects 
of  the  hardship  of  life  on  which  he  was  about  to  enter, 
ran  away  (odi)  at  the  last  moment,  after  he  had  been 
divested  of  the  punul  (thread),  but  before  he  had  per- 
formed the  final  ceremony  of  plunging  thrice  in  a  tank 
(pond),  and  of  plucking  out,  one  at  each  plunge,  the 
last  three  hairs  of  his  kudumi  (the  rest  of  which  had 
been  shaved  off).  But  the  termination  *  Odi '  is  found 
in  other  caste  titles  such  as  Adiyodi  and  Vallodi,  and 
the  definition  is  obviously  fanciful,  while  it  does  not 
explain  the  meaning  of  Pishar." 

The  houses  of  Pisharatis  are  called  pisharam.  Their 
primary  occupation  is  to  prepare  garlands  of  flowers  for 
Vaishnava  temples,  but  they  frequently  undertake  the 
talikazhakam  or  sweeping  service  in  temples.  Being 
learned  men,  and  good  Sanskrit  scholars,  they  are 
employed  as  Sanskrit  and  Malayalam  tutors  in  the 
families  of  those  of  high  rank,  and,  in  consequence, 
make  free  use  of  the  title  Asan.  They  are  strict 
Vaishnavites,  and  the  ashtakshara,  or  eight  letters 
relating  to  Vishnu,  as  opposed  to  the  panchakshara  or 
five  letters  relating  to  Siva,  forms  their  daily  hymn  of 


prayer.  They  act  as  their  own  caste  priests,  but  for 
the  punyaha  or  purificatory  ceremony  and  the  initia- 
tion into  the  ashtakshara,  which  are  necessary  on  special 
occasions,  the  services  of  Brahmans  are  engaged. 

The  Pisharatis  celebrate  the  tali-kettu  ceremony 
before  the  girl  reaches  puberty.  The  most  important 
item  therein  is  the  joining  of  the  hands  of  the  bride 
and  bridegroom.  The  planting  of  a  jasmine  shoot  is 
observed  as  an  indispensable  preliminary  rite.  The 
events  between  this  and  the  joining  of  hands  are  the 
same  as  with  other  Ambalavasis.  The  bride  and  bride- 
groom bathe,  and  wear  clothes  touched  by  each  other. 
The  girl's  mother  then  gives  her  a  wedding  garland 
and  a  mirror,  with  which  she  sits,  her  face  covered 
with  a  cloth.  The  cherutali,  or  marriage  ornament, 
is  tied  by  the  bridegroom  round  the  girl's  neck.  If 
this  husband  dies,  the  tali  has  to  be  removed,  and  the 
widow  observes  pollution.  Her  sons  have  to  make 
oblations  of  cooked  rice,  and,  for  all  social  and  reli- 
gious purposes,  the  woman  is  regarded  as  a  widow, 
though  she  is  not  debarred  from  contracting  a  sam- 
bandham  (alliance)  with  a  man  of  her  own  caste,  or 
a  Brahman.  If  the  wife  dies,  the  husband  has,  in 
like  manner,  to  observe  pollution,  and  make  oblations 
of  cooked  rice.  There  are  cases  in  which  the  tali- 
kettu  is  performed  by  a  Pisharati,  and  sambandham 
contracted  with  a  Brahman.  If  the  tali-tier  becomes  the 
husband,  no  separate  cloth-giving  ceremony  need  be 
gone  through  by  him  after  the  girl  has  reached  puberty. 

Inheritance  is  in  the  female  line,  so  much  so  that  a 
wife  and  children  are  not  entitled  to  compensation  for  the 
performance  of  a  man's  funeral  rites. 

No  particular  month  is  fixed  for  the  name-giving  rite, 
as  it  suffices  if  this  is  performed  before  the  annaprasana 


ceremony.  The  maternal  uncle  first  names  the  child. 
When  it  is  four  or  six  months  old,  it  is  taken  out  to  see 
the  sun.  On  the  occasion  of  the  annaprasana,  which 
usually  takes  place  in  the  sixth  month,  the  maternal 
uncle  gives  the  first  mouthful  of  cooked  rice  to  the  child 
by  means  of  a  golden  ring.  The  Yatrakali  serves  as  the 
night's  entertainment  for  the  assembled  guests.  Nam- 
butiris  are  invited  to  perform  the  purificatory  ceremony 
known  as  punyaha,  but  the  consecrated  water  is  only 
sprinkled  over  the  roof  of  the  house.  The  inmates  there- 
of protrude  their  heads  beneath  the  eaves  so  as  to  get 
purified,  as  the  Brahmans  do  not  pour  the  water  over 
them.  The  chaula  or  tonsure  takes  place  at  the  third 
year  of  a  child's  life.  The  maternal  uncle  first  touches 
the  boy's  head  with  a  razor,  and  afterwards  the  Maran 
and  barber  do  the  same.  The  initiation  into  the  ashtak- 
shara  takes  place  at  the  age  of  sixteen.  On  an  auspicious 
day,  a  Brahman  brings  a  pot  of  water,  consecrated  in  a 
temple,  to  the  pisharam,  and  pours  its  contents  on  the 
head  of  the  lad  who  is  to  be  initiated.  The  ceremony  is 
called  kalasam-ozhuk-kua,  or  letting  a  pot  of  water  flow. 
After  the  teaching  of  the  ashtakshara,  the  youth,  dressed 
in  religious  garb,  makes  a  ceremonial  pretence  of  pro- 
ceeding on  a  pilgrimage  to  Benares,  as  a  Brahman  does 
at  the  termination  of  the  Brahmacharya  stage  of  life.  It 
is  only  after  this  that  a  Pisharati  is  allowed  to  chew 
betel  leaf,  and  perform  other  acts,  which  constitute  the 
privileges  of  a  Grihastha. 

The  funeral  rites  of  the  Pisharatis  are  very  peculiar. 
The  corpse  is  seated  on  the  ground,  and  a  nephew  recites 
the  ashtakshara,  and  prostrates  himself  before  it.  The 
body  is  bathed,  and  dressed.  A  grave,  nine  feet  deep 
and  three  feet  square,  is  dug  in  a  corner  of  the  grounds, 
and  salt  and  ashes,  representing  all  the  Panchabhutas, 


are  spread.  The  corpse  is  placed  in  the  grave  in  a 
sitting  posture.  As  in  the  case  of  a  Sanyasi,  who  is  a 
Jivanmukta,  or  one  liberated  from  the  bondage  of  the 
flesh  though  alive  in  body,  so  a  dead  Pisharati  is  believed 
to  have  no  suitable  body  requiring  to  be  entertained  with 
any  post-mortem  offerings.  A  few  memorial  rites  are, 
however,  performed.  On  the  eleventh  day,  a  ceremony 
corresponding  to  the  ekoddishta  sradh  of  the  Brahman  is 
carried  out.  A  knotted  piece  of  kusa  grass,  represent- 
ing the  soul  of  the  deceased,  is  taken  to  a  neighbouring 
temple,  where  a  lighted  lamp,  symbolical  of  Maha  Vishnu 
is  worshipped,  and  prayers  are  offered.  This  ceremony 
is  repeated  at  the  end  of  the  first  year.* 

Some  Pisharatis  are  large  land-owners  of  considerable 
wealth  and  influence.! 

Pisu  Perike. — Perikes  who  weave  gunny-bags. 
Pitakalu  (dais,  on  which  a  priest  sits). — An  exoga- 
mous  sept  of  Odde. 

Pittalavadu. — A  Telugu  name  for  Kuruvikkarans. 
Podapotula.— -A  class  of  mendicants,  who  beg  from 

Podara  Vannan. — The  Podara,  Podarayan  or  Po- 
thora  Vannans  are  washermen  of  inferior  social  status, 
who  wash  clothes  for  Pallans,  Paraiyans,  and  other  low 

Podhano.— Recorded,  at  times  of  census,  as  a  title 
of  Bolasi,  Gaudo,  Kalingi,  Kudumo,  and  Samantiya. 
The  Samantiyas  also  frequently  give  it  as  the  name  of 
their  caste. 

Poduval. — Defined  by  Mr.  Wigram  {  as  one  of  the 
Ambalavasi  castes,  the  members  of  which  are  as  a  rule 
employed  as  temple    watchmen.     Writing   concerning 

*  This  note  is  from  an  account  by  Mr.  N.  Subramani  Aiyar. 

t  Gazetteer  of  the  Malabar  district.  J  Malabar  Law  and  Custom. 


the  Mussads  or  Muttatus,  Mr.  N.  Subramani  Aiyar 
states  that  they  are  known  as  Muttatus  or  Mussatus 
in  Travancore  and  Cochin,  and  Potuvals  (or  Poduvals) 
or  Akapotuvals  in  North  Malabar.  Potuval  means  a 
common  person,  i.e.,  the  representative  of  a  committee, 
and  a  Muttatus  right  to  this  name  accrues  from  the 
fact  that,  in  the  absence  of  the  Nambutiri  managers 
of  a  temple,  he  becomes  their  agent,  and  is  invested 
with  authority  to  exercise  all  their  functions.  The  work 
of  an  Akapotuval  always  lies  within  the  inner  wall  of 
the  shrine,  while  that  of  the  Purappotuval,  or  Potuval 
proper,  lies  outside.  From  Travancore,  Poduvan  or 
Potuvan  is  recorded  as  a  synonym  or  sub-division  of 
Marans,  who  are  employed  at  funerals  by  various 

It  is  recorded,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  Malabar,  that 
"  Pura  Pothuvals  are  of  two  classes,  Chenda  Pothuvals 
or  drum  Pothuvals,  and  Mala  Pothuvals  or  garland  Pothu- 
vals, the  names  of  course  referring  to  the  nature  of  the 
service  which  they  have  to  render  in  the  temple.  The 
Chenda  Pothuvals  would  appear  to  be  closely  connected 
with  the  Marars  or  Marayars,  who  are  also  drummers. 
Mala  Pothuvals  follow  marumakkattayam  (inheritance 
in  the  female  line),  their  women  having  sambandham 
(alliance)  with  men  of  their  own  caste  or  with  Brahmans, 
while  the  men  can  have  sambandham  in  their  own  caste, 
or  with  Nayar  women  of  any  of  the  sub-divisions 
below  Kiriyattil.  Their  women  are  called  Pothuvarassiar 
or  Pothuvattimar."  It  is  further  recorded  *  that,  in  some 
cases,  for  instance  among  Mala  Pothuvals  and  Marars  in 
South  Malabar,  a  fictitious  consummation  is  an  incident 
of  the  tali-kettu  ;  the  girl  and  manavalan  (bridegroom) 

*  26»d. 


being  made  to  lie  on  a  bed  together,  and  left  there  alone 
for  a  few  moments.  Amongst  the  Mala  Pothuvals  this 
is  done  twice,  once  on  the  first  and  once  on  the  last  day, 
and  they  apparently  also  spend  the  three  nights  of  the 
ceremony  in  the  same  bed-chamber,  but  not  alone,  an 
Enangatti  sleeping  there  as  chaperone.  In  these  two 
castes,  as  in  most  if  not  all  others,  the  ceremony  also 
entails  the  pollution  of  the  girl  and  her  bridegroom. 
Amongst  the  Marars,  they  are  purified  by  a  Nambudiri 
after  they  leave  their  quasi-nuptial  couch.  Amongst 
the  Mala  Pothuvals,  they  are  not  allowed  to  bathe  or  to 
touch  others  during  the  wedding  till  the  fourth  day, 
when  they  are  given  mattu  (change  of  cloths)  by  the 

Podala  occurs  as  a  Canarese  form  of  Poduval. 
Pogandan.— A  synonym  of  Pondan. 
Pokanati.— Pokanati  or  Pakanati  is  a  sub-division 
of  Kapu. 

Poladava.—- A  synonym  of  Gatti. 
Poligar  (feudal  chief). — A  synonym  of  Palayakkaran. 
According  to  Yule  and  Burnell,*  the  Poligars  "were 
properly  subordinate  feudal  chiefs,  occupying  tracts 
more  or  less  wild,  and  generally  of  predatory  habits  in 
former  days.  They  are  now  much  the  same  as  Zemindars 
(land-owners)  in  the  highest  use  of  that  term.  The 
Southern  Poligars  gave  much  trouble  about  a  hun- 
dred years  ago,  and  the  '  Poligar  wars '  were  somewhat 
serious  affairs.  In  various  assaults  on  Panjalamkurichi, 
one  of  their  forts  in  Tinnevelly,  between  1799  and 
1 80 1,  there  fell  fifteen  British  officers."  The  name 
Poligar  was  further  used  for  the  predatory  classes,  which 
served  under  the  chiefs.     Thus,  in  Munro's  'Narrative 

•  Hobson>Jobson. 


of  Military  Operations'  (1780-84),  it  is  stated  that 
"  the  matchlock  men  are  generally  accompanied  by 
Poligars,  a  set  of  fellows  that  are  almost  savages,  and 
make  use  of  no  other  weapon  than  a  pointed  bamboo 
spear,  18  or  20  feet  long." 

The  name  Poligar  is  given  to  a  South  Indian  breed 
of  greyhound-like  dogs  in  the  Tinnevelly  district. 

Pombada. — A  small  class  of  Canarese  devil-dancers, 
who  are  said,*  in  South  Canara,  to  resemble  the  Nalkes, 
but  hold  a  somewhat  higher  position,  and  in  devil- 
dances  to  represent  a  better  class  of  demons.  Unlike 
the  Nalkes  and  Paravas,  they  follow  the  aliya  santana 
system  of  inheritance.  They  speak  Tulu,  and,  in  their 
customs,  follow  those  of  the  Billavas.  There  are  two 
sections  among  the  Pombadas,  viz.,  Bailu,  who  are 
mainly  cultivators,  and  Padarti,  who  are  chiefly  engaged 
in  devil-dancing.  The  Pombadas  are  not,  like  the 
Nalkes  and  Paravas,  a  polluting  class,  and  are  socially 
a  little  inferior  to  the  Billavas.  They  do  not  wear  the 
disguises  of  the  bhuthas  (devils)  Nicha,  Varte,  and 
Kamberlu,  who  are  considered  low,  but  wear  those  of 
Jumadi,  Panjurli,  Jarandaya,  Mahisandeya,  and  Koda- 
manithaya.  Ullaya  or  Dharmadevata  is  regarded  as  a 
superior  bhutha,  and  the  special  bhutha  of  the  Pombadas, 
who  do  not  allow  Nalkes  or  Paravas  to  assume  his 
disguise.  During  the  Jumadi  Kola  (festival),  the  Pombada 
who  represents  the  bhutha  Jumadi  is  seated  on  a  cart, 
and  dragged  in  procession  through  the  streets.  (See 

Pon  Chetti  (gold  merchant). — A  synonym  of  Mala- 
yalam  Kammalan  goldsmiths. 

Pon  (gold)  Illam.— A  section  of  Mukkuvans. 

*  Manual  of  the  South  Canara  district. 

207  POROJA 

Pondan. — "There  are,"  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  writes,* 
'*  only  twenty-eight  persons  of  this  caste  in  Malabar,  and 
they  are  all  in  Calicut.  These  are  the  palanquin-bearers 
of  the  Zamorin.  They  are  in  dress,  manners,  customs, 
and  language  entirely  Tamilians,  and,  while  the  Zamorin 
is  polluted  by  the  touch  of  any  ordinary  Tamilian,  these 
Pondans  enjoy  the  privilege  of  bearing  him  in  a  palan- 
quin to  and  from  the  temple  every  day.  Now  there  is  a 
sub-division  of  the  Tamil  Idaiyans  by  name  Pogondan, 
and  I  understand  that  these  Pogondans  are  the  palanquin- 
bearers  of  the  Idaiyan  caste.  It  seems  probable  that  the 
founder,  or  some  early  member  of  the  Zamorin,  obtained 
palanquin-bearers  of  his  own  (cowherd)  caste  and  granted 
them  privileges  which  no  other  Tamilians  now  enjoy." 

Pondra.— Pondra,  or  Ponara,  is  a  sub-division  of 

Ponganadu.— -Ponganadu  and  Ponguvan  have  been 
recorded,  at  times  of  census,  as  a  sub-division  of  Kapu, 
A  corrupt  form  of  Pakanati. 

Ponnambalaththar. — A  class  of  mendicants,  who 
have  attached  themselves  to  the  Kaikolans. 

Ponnar a.— Recorded,  in  the  Travancore  Census 
Report,  1 90 1,  as  a  sub-division  of  Nayar. 

Poruvannurkaran.— A  class  of  carpenters  in 

Poroja. — The  Porojas  or  Parjas  are  hill  cultivators 
found  in  the  Agency  tracts  of  Ganjam  and  Vizagapatam. 
Concerning  them,  it  is  noted,  in  the  Madras  Census 
Report,  1871,  that  "there  are  held  to  be  seven  classes 
of  these  Parjas,  which  differ  from  each  other  in  points 
of  language,  customs,  and  traditions.  The  term  Parja  is, 
as  Mr.  Carmichael  has  pointed  out,  merely  a  corruption 

•  Madras  Census  Report,  1891, 

POROJA  208 

of  a  Sanskrit  term  signifying  a  subject,  and  it  is  under- 
stood as  such  by  the  people  themselves,  who  use  it  in 
contradistinction  to  a  free  hill-man.     '  Formerly/  says  a 
tradition  that  runs  through  the  whole  tribe,   '  Rajas  and 
Parjas  were  brothers,  but  the  Rajas  took  to  riding  horses 
(or,  as  the  Barenja  Parjas  put   it,   sitting  still)  and  we 
became  carriers  of  burdens  and  Parjas.'    It  is  quite  certain, 
in  fact,  that  the  term  Parja  is  not  a  tribal  denomination, 
but  a  class  denomination,   and  it  may  be  fitly  rendered 
by   the    familiar    epithet    of  ryot    (cultivator).     I    have 
laid  stress  on  this,  because  all  native  officials,   and  every 
one  that  has  written  about  the  country  (with  the  above 
exception),  always  talk  of  the  term   Parja  as  if  it  signi- 
fied a  caste.     There  is  no  doubt,  however,  that  by  far 
the    greater  number    of  these   Parjas   are  akin  to   the 
Khonds  of  the  Ganjam  Maliahs.    They  are  thrifty,  hard- 
working cultivators,  undisturbed  by  the  intestine  broils 
which  their  cousins  in  the  north  engage  in,  and  they  bear 
in  their  breasts  an  inalienable  reverence  for  their  soil, 
the  value  of  which  they  are  rapidly  becoming  acquainted 
with.     The    Parja     bhumi    (land)    is    contained     almost 
entirely  in  the  upper  level.    Parts  to  the  south  held  under 
Pachipenta    and    Madugulu    (Madgole)    are   not    Parja 
bhumi,  nor,   indeed,  are  some  villages  to  the  north  in 
the  possession  of  the  Khonds.     Their  ancient  rights  to 
these  lands  are  acknowledged  by  colonists  from  among 
the  Aryans,  and,  when  a  dispute  arises  concerning  the 
boundaries  of  a  field  possessed  by  recent  arrivals,  a  Parja 
is  usually  called  in  to  point  out  the  ancient  land-marks." 
The  name  Poroja  seems  to  be  derived  from  the  Oriya, 
Po,  son,  and  Raja,  i.e.,  sons  of  Rajas.     There   is  a  tradi- 
tion that,  at  the  time  when  the  Rajas  of  Jeypore  rose  into 
prominence  at  Nandapur,  the  country  was  occupied  by 
a  number  of  tribes,  who,   in  return  for  the  protection 

209  POROJA 

promised  to  them,  surrendered  their  rights  to  the  soil, 
which  they  had  hitherto  occupied  absolutely.  I  am 
informed  that  the  Porojas,  when  asked  what  their  caste 
is,  use  ryot  and  Poroja  as  synonymous,  saying  we  are 
Porojas  ;  we  are  ryot  people. 

The  Parji  language  is  stated  by  Mr.  G.  A.  Grierson* 
to  have  "  hitherto  been  considered  as  identical  with 
Bhatrl.  Bhatri  has  now  become  a  form  of  Oriya.  Parji, 
on  the  other  hand,  is  still  a  dialect  of  Gondi."  The 
Bhatras  are  a  tribe  inhabiting  the  state  of  Bastar  in  the 
Central  Provinces. 

The  Porojas  are  not  a  compact  caste,  but  rather  a 
conglomerate,  made  up  of  several  endogamous  sections, 
and  speaking  a  language,  which  varies  according  to 
locality.  These  sections,  according  to  Mr.  C.  Hayava- 
dana  Rao,  to  whom  I  am  indebted  for  much  of  the  present 
note,  are — 

(i)  Barang  Jhodia,  who  eat  beef  and  speak  Oriya. 

(2)  Pengu  Poroja,  subdivided  into  those  who  eat 
the  flesh  of  the  buffalo,  and  those  who  do  not.  They 
speak  a  language,  which  is  said  to  bear  a  close  resem- 
blance to  Kondhs. 

(3)  Khondi  or  Kondi  Poroja,  who  are  a  section  of 
the  Kondhs,  eat  beef  and  the  flesh  of  buffaloes,  and  speak 
Kodu  or  Kondh. 

(4)  Parengi  Poroja,  who  are  a  section  of  the 
Gadabas.  They  are  subdivided  into  those  who  eat 
and  do  not  eat  the  flesh  of  buffaloes,  and  speak  a  Gadaba 

(5)  Bonda,  Bunda,  or  Nanga  Poroja,  who  are  like- 
wise a  section  of  the  Gadabas,  call  themselves  Bonda 
Gadaba,  and  speak  a  dialect  of  Gadaba. 

*  Linguistic  Survey  of  India,  IV,  1906. 


(6)  Tagara  Poroja,  who  are  a  section  of  the  Koyas 
or  Koyis,  and  speak  Koya,  or,  in  some  places,  Telugu. 

(7)  Dur  Poroja,  also,  it  is  said,  known  as   Didayi 
Poroja,  who  speak  Oriya. 

Among  the  Barang  Jhodias,  the  gidda  (vulture), 
bagh  (tiger),  and  nag  (cobra)  are  regarded  as  totems. 
Among  the  Pengu,  Kondhi  and  Dur  divisions,  the  two 
last  are  apparently  regarded  as  such,  and,  in  addition  to 
them,  the  Bonda  Porojas  have  mandi  (cow). 

In  the  Barang  Jhodia,  Pengu,  and  Kondhi  divisions, 
it  is  customary  for  a  man  to  marry  his  paternal  aunt's 
daughter,  but  he  cannot  claim  her  as  a  matter  of  right, 
for  the  principle  of  free  love  is  recognised  among  them. 
The  dhangada  and  dhangadi  basa  system,  according  to 
which  bachelors  and  unmarried  girls  sleep  in  separate 
quarters  in  a  village,  is  in  force  among  the  Porojas. 

When  a  marriage  is  contemplated  among  the  Barang 
Jhodias,  the  parents  of  the  young  man  carry  two  pots 
of  liquor  and  some  rice  to  the  parents  of  the  girl,  who 
accept  the  present,  if  they  are  favourable  to  the  match. 
If  it  is  accepted,  the  future  bridegroom's  party  renew 
the  proposal  a  year  later  by  bringing  five  kunchams  of 
rice,  a  new  female  cloth,  seven  uddas  of  liquor,  and  a 
sum  of  money  ranging  from  fifteen  to  fifty  rupees.  On 
the  following  evening,  the  bride,  accompanied  by  her 
relations,  goes  to  the  village  of  the  bridegroom.  Outside 
his  house  two  poles  have  been  set  up,  and  joined 
together  at  the  top  by  a  string,  from  which  a  gourd 
{Cucurbita  maxima)  is  suspended.  As  soon  as  the 
contracting  couple  come  before  the  house,  a  tall  man 
cuts  the  gourd  with  his  tangi  (axe)  and  it  falls  to  the 
ground.  The  pair  then  enter  the  house,  and  the  bride 
is  presented  with  a  new  cloth  by  the  parents  of  the 
bridegroom.     Opposite   the    bridegroom's    house    is  a 


square   fence,  forming  an  enclosure,  from    which    the 
bride's  party  watch  the  proceedings.     They  are  joined 
by  the   bride  and  bridegroom,  and  the  parents  of  the 
latter   distribute   ragi   {Eleusine   Corocana)    liquor   and 
ippa  [Bassid)  liquor.     A  dance,   in  which  both  males 
and  females  take  part,  is  kept  up  till  the  small  hours, 
and,    on    the    following   day,    a   feast    is    held.     About 
midday,  the  bride  is  formally  handed  over  to  the  bride- 
groom, in  the  presence  of  the  Janni  and  Mudili  (caste 
elders).     She  remains  a  week  at   her  new  home,   and 
then,  even  though  she  has  reached  puberty,  returns  to 
her  father's  house,  where  she  remains  for  a  year,  before 
finally  joining  her  husband.     In  another  form  of  marriage 
among  the  Barang  Jhodias,  the  bride  is  brought  to  the 
house   of  the  bridegroom,  in  front  of  which  a  pandal 
(booth),  made  of  six  poles,  is  set  up.     The  central  pole 
is  cut  from  the  neredi  chettu  [Eugenia  Jambolana).     At 
the  auspicious  moment,  which  is  fixed  by  the  Disari,  the 
maternal  uncle  of  the  bridegroom  sits  with  the  bride- 
groom on  his  lap,  and  the  bride  at  his  feet.     Castor-oil 
is  then  applied  by  the  bridegroom's  father,  first  to  the 
bridegroom,  and  then  to  the  bride.     A  feast  follows,  at 
which  fowls  and  liquor  are  consumed.     On  the  following 
day,  the  newly-married  couple  bathe,  and  the  ceremonies 
are  at  an  end. 

I  am  informed  by  Mr.  H.  C.  Daniel  that  there  is  a 
custom  among  the  Porojas,  and  other  classes  in  Vizaga- 
patam  {e.g.,  Gadabas,  Ghasis,  and  Malis),  according  to 
which  a  man  gives  his  services  as  a  goti  for  a  specified 
time  to  another,  in  return  for  a  small  original  loan.  His 
master  has  to  keep  him  supplied  with  food,  and  to  pay 
him  about  two  rupees  at  the  Dussera  festival,  as  well 
as  making  him  a  present  of  a  cloth  and  a  pair  of  sandals. 
The    servant   must   do   whatever    he    is    told,    and   is 

VI-14  B 

POROJA  212 

practically  a  slave  until  the  specified  time  is  over. 
A  man  may  give  his  son  as  a  goti,  instead  of  himself. 
It  is  also  fairly  common  to  find  a  man  serving  his 
prospective  father-in-law  for  a  specified  time,  in  order 
to  secure  his  daughter.  Men  from  the  plains,  usually 
of  the  Komati  caste,  who  have  come  to  the  hills  for  the 
purpose  of  trade,  go  by  the  local  name  of  Sundi.  They 
are  the  chief  upholders  of  the  goti  system,  by  which 
they  get  labour  cheap.  Mr.  Daniel  has  never  heard 
of  a  goti  refusing  to  do  his  work,  the  contract  being 
by  both  sides  considered  quite  inviolable.  But  a  case 
was  recently  tried  in  a  Munsiff's  Court,  in  which  a  goti 
absconded  from  his  original  master,  and  took  service  with 
another,  thereby  securing  a  fresh  loan.  The  original 
master  sued  him  for  the  balance  of  labour  due. 

The  language  of  the  Bonda  Porojas,  as  already  indi- 
cated, connects  them  closely  with  the  Gadabas,  but  any 
such  connection  is  stoutly  denied  by  them.  The  names 
Bonda  and  Nanga  mean  naked,  and  bear  reference  to 
the  fact  that  the  only  clothing  of  the  women  is  a  strip  of 
cloth  made  from  setukudi  or  ankudi  chettu,  or  kareng 
fibre.  In  a  note  on  the  Bhondas  of  Jaipur,  Mr.  J.  A. 
May  informs  us"^  that  the  female  attire  "  consists  of  just 
a  piece  of  cloth,  either  made  of  kerong  bark  and  manu- 
factured by  themselves,  or  purchased  from  the  weavers, 
about  a  foot  square,  and  only  sufficient  to  cover  a  part 
of  one  hip.  It  is  attached  to  their  waists  by  a  string,  on 
which  it  runs,  and  can  be  shifted  round  to  any  side.  A 
most  ludicrous  sight  has  often  been  presented  to  me 
by  a  stampede  among  a  number  of  these  women,  when 
I  have  happened  to  enter  a  village  unexpectedly.  On 
my  approach,   one  and  all  hurried  to  their  respective 

Ind.  Ant.,  II,  I873. 

213  POROJA 

dwellings,  and,  as  they  ran  in  all  directions,  endeavoured 
to  shift  this  rag  round  to  the  part  most  likely  to  be 
exposed  to  me."  The  Bonda  women  have  glass  bead 
and  brass  ornaments  hung  round  their  necks,  and  cover- 
ing their  bosoms.  The  legend,  which  accounts  for  the 
scanty  clothing  of  the  Bondas,  runs  to  the  effect  that, 
when  Sita,  the  wife  of  Rama,  was  bathing  in  a  river,  she 
was  seen  by  women  of  this  tribe,  who  laughed  at  and 
mocked  her.  Thereon,  she  cursed  them,  and  ordained 
that,  in  future,  all  the  women  should  shave  their  heads, 
and  wear  no  clothing  except  a  small  covering  for 
decency's  sake.  There  is  a  further  tradition  that,  if  the 
Bonda  women  were  to  abandon  their  primitive  costume, 
the  whole  tribe  would  be  destroyed  by  tigers.  The 
shaving  of  the  women's  heads  is  carried  out,  with  a  knife 
lent  by  the  village  Komaro  (blacksmith),  by  a  member 
of  the  tribe.  Round  the  head,  the  women  wear  a  piece 
of  bamboo  tied  behind  with  strings. 

In  one  form  of  marriage,  as  carried  out  by  the 
Bondas,  a  young  man,  with  some  of  his  friends,  goes  to 
the  sleeping  apartment  of  the  maidens,  where  each  of 
them  selects  a  maid  for  himself.  The  young  men  and 
maidens  then  indulge  in  a  singing  contest,  in  which  im- 
promptu allusions  to  physical  attributes,  and  bantering 
and  repartee  take  place.  If  a  girl  decides  to  accept  a 
young  man  as  her  suitor,  he  takes  a  burning  stick  from 
the  night  fire,  and  touches  her  breast  with  it.  He  then 
withdraws,  and  sends  one  of  his  friends  to  the  girl  with 
a  brass  bangle,  which,  after  some  questioning  as  to  who 
sent  it,  she  accepts.  Some  months  later,  the  man's 
parents  go  to  the  girl's  home,  and  ask  for  her  hand  on 
behalf  of  their  son.  A  feast  follows,  and  the  girl,  with 
a  couple  of  girls  of  about  her  own  age,  goes  with  the 
man's  parents  to  their  home.     They  send  five  kunchams 

POROJA  214 

of  rice  to  the  parents  of  the  girl,  and  present  the  two 
girls  with  a  similar  quantity.  The  three  girls  then 
return  to  their  homes.  Again  several  months  elapse, 
and  then  the  man's  parents  go  to  fetch  the  bride,  and 
a  feast  and  dance  take  place.  The  pair  are  then  man 
and  wife. 

In  another  account  of  the  marriage  customs  of  the 
Nanga  Porojas,  it  is  stated  that  pits  are  dug  in  the 
ground,  in  which,  during  the  cold  season,  the  children 
are  put  at  night,  to  keep  them  warm.  The  pit  is  about 
nine  feet  in  diameter.  In  the  spring,  all  the  marriage- 
able girls  of  a  settlement  are  put  into  one  pit,  and  a 
young  man,  who  has  really  selected  his  bride  with  the 
consent  of  his  parents,  comes  and  proposes  to  her.  If 
she  refuses  him,  he  tries  one  after  another  till  he  is 
accepted.  On  one  occasion,  a  leopard  jumped  into  the 
pit,  and  killed  some  of  the  maidens.  In  a  note  on 
Bhonda  marriage,  Mr.  May  writes  *  that  "a  number  of 
youths,  candidates  for  matrimony,  start  off  to  a  village, 
where  they  hope  to  find  a  corresponding  number  of 
young  women,  and  make  known  their  wishes  to  the 
elders,  who  receive  them  with  all  due  ceremony.  The 
juice  of  the  salop  (sago  palm)  in  a  fermented  state  is  in 
great  requisition,  as  nothing  can  be  done  without  the 
exhilarating  effects  of  their  favourite  beverage.  They 
then  proceed  to  excavate  an  underground  chamber  (if 
one  is  not  already  prepared),  having  an  aperture  at  the 
top,  admitting  of  the  entrance  of  one  at  a  time.  Into 
this  the  young  gentlemen,  with  a  corresponding  number 
of  young  girls,  are  introduced,  when  they  grope  about 
and  make  their  selection,  after  which  they  ascend  out 
of  it,  each  holding  the  young  lady  of  his  choice  by  the 

*  Loc,  cit. 

215  POROJA 

forefinger  of  one  of  her  hands.  Bracelets  (the  equivalent 
of  the  wedding  ring)  are  now  put  on  her  arms  by  the 
elders,  and  two  of  the  young  men  stand  as  sponsors 
for  each  bridegroom.  The  couples  are  then  led  to  their 
respective  parents,  who  approve  and  give  their  consent. 
After  another  application  of  salop  and  sundry  greetings, 
the  bridegroom  is  permitted  to  take  his  bride  home, 
where  she  lives  with  him  for  a  week,  and  then,  returning 
to  her  parents,  is  not  allowed  to  see  her  husband  for  a 
period  of  one  year,  at  the  expiration  of  which  she  is 
finally  made  over  to  him."  In  a  still  further  account  of 
marriage  among  the  Bondas,  I  am  informed  that  a  young 
man  and  a  maid  retire  to  the  jungle,  and  light  a  fire. 
Then  the  maid,  taking  a  burning  stick,  applies  it  to  the 
man's  gluteal  region.  If  he  cries  out  Am  !  Am  !  Am  !  he 
is  unworthy  of  her,  and  she  remains  a  maid.  If  he  does 
not,  the  marriage  is  at  once  consummated.  The  appli- 
cation of  the  brand  is  probably  light  or  severe  according 
to  the  girl's  feelings  towards  the  young  man.  According 
to  another  version,  the  girl  goes  off  to  the  jungle  with 
several  men,  and  the  scene  has  been  described  as  being 
like  a  figure  in  the  cotillion,  as  they  come  up  to  be 
switched  with  the  brand. 

Widow  remarriage  is  permitted  among  all  the  divi- 
sions of  the  Porojas,  and  a  younger  brother  usually 
marries  his  elder  brother's  widow. 

The  Jhodia,  Pengu,  and  Kondhi  divisions  worship 
Bhumi  Devata  (the  earth  goddess),  who  is  also  known 
as  Jakar  Devata,  once  in  three  years.  Each  village 
offers  a  cow,  goat,  pig,  and  pigeon  to  her  as  a  sacrifice. 
She  is  represented  by  a  stone  under  a  tree  outside  the 
village.  A  casteman  acts  as  pujari  (priest),  and  all  the 
villagers,  including  the  Janni  and  Mudili,  are  present  at 
the   festival,  which   winds   up  with   a  feast  and  drink. 

POROJA  216 

The  Bondas  worship  Takurani  in  the  months  of  Chaitra 
and  Magho,  and  the  festival  includes  the  sacrifice  of 
animals.  "  Their  religious  ceremonies,"  Mr.  May 
writes,  "  consist  in  offerings  to  some  nameless  deity,  or  to 
the  memory  of  deceased  relations.  At  each  of  the  prin- 
cipal villages,  the  Bhondas  congregate  once  a  year  in 
some  spot  conveniently  situated  for  their  orgies,  when  a 
chicken,  a  few  eggs,  and  a  pig  or  goat  are  offered,  after 
which  they  retire  to  their  houses,  and  next  day  assemble 
again,  when  the  salop  juice  is  freely  imbibed  till  the  intoxi- 
cating effects  have  thoroughly  roused  their  pugnacity. 
The  process  of  cudgelling  one  another  with  the  branches 
of  the  Salop  now  begins,  and  they  apply  them  indis- 
criminately without  the  smallest  regard  for  each  other's 
feelings.  This,  with  the  attendant  drums  and  shrieks, 
would  give  one  the  impression  of  a  host  of  maniacs 
suddenly  set  at  liberty.  This  amusement  is  continued 
till  bruises,  contusions,  and  bleeding  heads  and  backs 
have  reduced  them  to  a  comparatively  sober  state,  and, 
I  imagine,  old  scores  are  paid  off,  when  they  return  to 
their  several  houses." 

The  dead  are,  as  a  rule,  burnt.  By  some  of  the 
Jhodia  Porojas,  the  ashes  are  subsequently  buried  "in  a 
pit  a  few  feet  deep,  near  the  burning-ground,  and  the 
grave  is  marked  by  a  heap  of  stones.  A  pole  is  set  up  in 
this  heap,  and  water  poured  on  it  for  twelve  days.  On 
the  fourth  day,  cooked  rice  and  fish  are  set  on  the  way 
leading  to  the  spot  where  the  corpse  was  burned.  The 
celebrants  of  the  death  rite  then  take  mango  bark,  paint 
it  with  cow-dung,  and  sprinkle  themselves  with  it. 
The  ceremony  concludes  with  a  bath,  feast,  and  drink. 
Among  the  Bonda  Porojas,  some  of  the  jewelry  of 
the  deceased  person  is  burnt  with  the  corpse,  and  the 
remainder  given   to  the  daughter  or   daughter-in-law. 

217  POROJA 

They  observe  pollution  for  three  days,  during  which 
they  do  not  enter  their  fields.  On  the  fourth  day,  they 
anoint  themselves  with  castor-oil  and  turmeric,  and 

Mr.  G.  F.  Paddison  informs  me  that  he  once  gave 
medicine  to  the  Porojas  during  an  epidemic  of  cholera 
in  a  village.  They  all  took  it  eagerly,  but,  as  he  was 
going  away,  asked  whether  it  would  not  be  quicker  cure 
to  put  the  witch  in  the  next  village,  who  had  brought 
on  the  cholera,  into  jail. 

A  Bonda  Poroja  dance  is  said  to  be  very  humour- 
ous. The  young  men  tie  a  string  of  bells  round  their 
legs,  and  do  the  active  part  of  the  dance.  The  women 
stand  in  a  cluster,  with  faces  to  the  middle,  clap  their 
hands,  and  scream  at  intervals,  while  the  men  hop  and 
stamp,  and  whirl  round  them  on  their  own  axes.  The 
following  account  of  a  dance  by  the  Jhodia  Poroja  girls 
of  the  Koraput  and  Nandapuram  country  is  given  by 
Mr.  W.  Francis.*  "  Picturesque  in  the  extreme,"  he 
writes,  "  is  a  dancing  party  of  these  cheery  maidens, 
dressed  all  exactly  alike  in  clean  white  cloths  with  cerise 
borders  or  checks,  reaching  barely  half  way  to  the  knee  ; 
great  rings  on  their  fingers  ;  brass  bells  on  their  toes  ; 
their  substantial  but  shapely  arms  and  legs  tattooed 
from  wrist  to  shoulder,  and  from  ankle  to  knee ;  their 
left  forearms  hidden  under  a  score  of  heavy  brass 
bangles  ;  and  their  feet  loaded  with  chased  brass  anklets 
weighing  perhaps  a  dozen  pounds.  The  orchestra,  which 
consists  solely  of  drums  of  assorted  shapes  and  sizes, 
dashes  into  an  overture,  and  the  girls  quickly  group 
themselves  into  a  couple  of  corps  de  ballet,  each  under 
the  leadership  of  a  premiere  danseuse,  who  marks  the 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  Vizagapatam  district. 

POROJA  2i8 

time  with  a  long  baton  of  peacock's  feathers.  Suddenly, 
the  drums  drop  to  a  muffled  beat,  and  each  group 
strings  out  into  a  long  line,  headed  by  the  leader  with  the 
feathers,  each  maiden  passing  her  right  hand  behind 
the  next  girl's  back,  and  grasping  the  left  elbow  of  the 
next  but  one.  Thus  linked,  and  in  time  with  the  drums 
(which  now  break  into  allegro  crescendo),  the  long  chain 
of  girls — dancing  in  perfect  step,  following  the  leader 
with  her  swaying  baton,  marking  the  time  by  clinking 
their  anklets  (right,  left,  right,  clink ;  left,  clink  ;  right, 
left,  right,  clink  ;  and  so  da  capo),  chanting  the  while 
(quite  tunefully)  in  unison  a  refrain  in  a  minor  key 
ending  on  a  sustained  falling  note — weave  themselves 
into  sinuous  lines,  curves,  spirals,  figures-of-eight,  and 
back  Into  lines  again  ;  wind  in  and  out  like  some  brightly- 
coloured  snake  ;  never  halting  for  a  moment,  now  back- 
wards, now  forwards,  first  slowly  and  decorously,  then, 
as  the  drums  quicken,  faster  and  faster,  with  more 
and  more  abandon,  and  longer  and  longer  steps,  until 
suddenly  some  one  gets  out  of  step,  and  the  chain  snaps 
amid  peals  of  breathless  laughter." 

For  the  following  supplementary  note  on  the  Bonda 
Porojas,  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  C.  A.  Henderson. 

These  people  live  in  the  western  portion  of 
Malkanagiri  taluk,  along  the  edge  of  the  hills,  probably 
penetrating  some  distance  into  them.  The  elder  men 
are  not  in  any  way  distinguishable  from  their  neighbours. 
Young  unmarried  men,  however,  tie  a  strip  of  palmyra 
leaf  round  their  heads  in  the  same  way  as  the  women  of 
their  own  tribe,  or  of  the  Gadabas.  The  women  are 
very  distinctly  dressed.  They  all  shave  their  heads 
once  a  month  or  so,  and  fasten  a  little  fillet,  made  of 
beads  or  plaited  grass,  round  them.  The  neck  and 
chest  are  covered  with  a  mass  of  ornaments,  by  which 

219  POROJA 

the  breasts  are  almost  concealed.  These  consist,  for  the 
most  part,  of  bead  necklaces,  but  they  have  also  one  or 
more  very  heavy  brass  necklaces  of  various  designs, 
some  being  merely  collections  of  rings  on  a  connecting 
circlet,  some  massive  hinged  devices  tied  together  at  the 
end  with  string.  They  wear  also  small  ear-studs  of  lead. 
Apart  from  these  ornaments,  they  are  naked  to  the 
waist.  Round  the  loins,  a  small  thick  cloth  is  worn. 
This  is  woven  from  the  fibre  of  the  ringa  (Oriya  sitkodai 
gotsho).  This  cloth  measures  about  two  feet  by  eight 
inches,  and  is  of  thick  texture  like  gunny,  and  variously 
coloured.  Owing  to  its  exiguity,  its  wearers  are  com- 
pelled, for  decency's  sake,  to  sit  on  their  heels  with  their 
knees  together,  instead  of  squatting  in  the  ordinary 
native  posture.  This  little  cloth  is  supported  round  the 
waist  by  a  thread,  or  light  chain  of  tin  and  beads,  but 
not  totally  confined  thereby.  The  upper  edge  of  the 
cloth  behind  is  free  from  the  chain,  and  bulges  out, 
exposing  the  upper  portion  of  the  buttocks,  the  thread 
or  chain  lying  in  the  small  of  the  back.  It  is  noted 
by  Mr.  Sandell  that  "  the  cloth  at  present  used  is  of 
comparatively  recent  introduction,  and  seems  to  be  a 
slight  infringement  of  the  tabu.  The  original  cloth 
and  supporting  string  were  undoubtedly  made  of  jungle 
fibre,  and  the  modern  colouring  is  brought  about  with 
cotton  thread.  Similarly,  the  Bonda  Poroja  necklaces 
of  cheap  beads,  blue  and  white,  must  be  modern,  and 
most  obviously  so  the  fragments  of  tin  that  they  work 
into  their  chains.  The  women  are  said  to  wear  cloths 
in  their  houses,  but  to  leave  them  off  when  they  go 
outside.  It  seems  that  the  tabu  is  directed  against 
appearing  in  public  fully  clothed,  and  not  against  wear- 
ing decent  sized  cloths,  as  such.  The  party  I  saw 
were  mostly  unmarried  girls,  but  one  of  them  had  been 

POROJA  •  220 

married  for  a  year.  When  not  posing  for  the  camera, 
or  dancing,  she  tied  a  small  piece  of  cloth  round 
her  neck,  so  as  to  hang  over  the  shoulders.  This,  as 
far  as  I  could  make  out,  was  not  because  she  was 
married,  but  simply  because  she  was  more  shy  than 
the  rest. 

"  Two  houses  are  kept  in  the  village,  for  the 
unmarried  girls  and  young  men  respectively.  Appa- 
rently marriages  are  matters  of  inclination,  the  parents 
having  no  say  in  the  matter.  The  young  couple  having 
contracted  friendship  (by  word  of  mouth,  and  not  by 
deed,  as  it  was  explained  to  me),  inform  their  parents  of 
it.  The  young  man  goes  to  make  his  demand  of  the 
girl's  parents,  apparently  without  at  the  time  making 
any  presents  to  them,  contrary  to  the  custom  of  the 
Kondhs  and  others.  Then  there  seem  to  be  a  series  of 
promises  on  the  part  of  the  parents  to  give  the  girl. 
But  the  witnesses  were  rather  confused  on  the  point. 
I  gather  that  the  sort  of  final  betrothal  takes  place  in 
Dyali  (the  month  after  Dusserah),  and  the  marriage  in 
Magha.  At  the  time  of  marriage,  the  girl's  parents 
are  presented  with  a  pair  of  bulls,  a  cloth,  and  a  pot 
of  landa  (sago-palm  toddy).  But  no  return  is  made 
for  them.  The  father  gives  the  girl  some  ornaments. 
The  married  woman,  whom  I  saw,  had  been  given  a 
bracelet  by  her  husband,  but  it  was  not  a  conspicuously 
valuable  one,  and  in  no  way  indicative  of  her  status." 
In  connection  with  marriage,  Mr.  Sandell  adds  that 
"  a  youth  of  one  village  does  not  marry  a  maiden  of 
the  same  village,  as  they  are  regarded  as  brother  and 
sister.  The  marriage  pit  is  still  in  use,  and  may 
last  all  through  the  cold  weather.  A  number  of  small 
villages  will  club  together,  and  have  one  big  pit."  In 
the  case  observed  by   Mr.  Sandell,  three  of  the  local 

221  POROJA 

maidens  were  shut  up  in  the  pit  at  night,  and  five  stranger 
youths  admitted.  The  pit  may  be  twelve  feet  across, 
and  is  covered  with  tatties  (mats)  and  earth,  a  trap-door 
being  left. 

"  After  childbirth,  the  mother  is  unclean  for  some 
days.  The  time  is,  I  gather,  reckoned  by  the  dropping 
of  the  navel-string,  and  is  given  as  eight  to  sixteen  days. 
During  that  period,  the  woman  is  not  allowed  to  cook, 
or  even  touch  her  meals. 

"  These  people  say  that  they  have  no  puja  (worship). 
But  at  the  time  of  sowing  seed,  they  sacrifice  one  egg 
(for  the  whole  village)  to  Matera  Hundi,  the  goddess  of 
harvest,  who  is  represented  by  a  branch  of  the  kusi  or 
jamo  (guava)  tree  planted  in  the  village.  The  people 
have  no  pujaris,  and,  in  this  case,  the  priest  was  a 
Mattia  by  caste.  He  plants  the  branch,  and  performs 
the  sacrifice.  At  the  time  of  Nua  Khau  (new  eating  ; 
first  fruits)  a  sacrifice  of  an  animal  of  some  kind  is  also 
made  to  Matera  Hundi.  Her  aid  is,  they  say,  sought 
against  the  perils  of  the  jungle,  but  primarily  she  is 
wanted  to  give  them  a  good  crop.  The  Bonda  Porojas 
are  quite  ready  to  tell  the  old  story  of  Sita  (whom  they 
call  Maha  Lakshmi),  and  her  curse  upon  their  women, 
whereby  they  shave  their  heads,  and  may  not  wear 
cloths.  It  is  stated  by  Mr.  May  that  a  Government 
Agent  once  insisted  on  a  young  woman  being  properly 
clothed,  and  she  survived  the  change  only  three  days.  I 
understand  that  this  case  has  been  somewhat  misrepre- 
sented. The  cloth  is  believed  not  to  have  been  forced 
upon  the  girl,  but  offered  to,  and  greatly  appreciated  by 
her.  Her  death  shortly  afterwards  was  apparently  not 
the  result  of  violation  of  the  tabu,  but  accidental,  and 
due,  it  is  believed,  to  small-pox.  The  people  whom  I 
saw  had    not    heard    of  this   episode,    but    said    that  a 

POTHORIA  2  22 

woman  who  wore  a  cloth  out  of  doors  would  fall  sick, 
not  die.  But  the  possibility  of  any  woman  of  theirs 
wearing  a  cloth  obviously  seemed  to  them  very  remote. 
The  Bonda  Porojas  have  a  sort  of  belief  in  ghosts — 
not  altogether  devils  apparently,  but  the  spirits  of  the 
departed  (sayire).  These  may  appear  in  dreams,  influ- 
ence life  and  health,  and  vaguely  exercise  a  helpful 
influence  over  the  crops.  I  did  not  find  out  if  they  were 
propitiated  in  any  way. 

"  A  dead  body  is  washed,  tied  to  a  tatty  (mat) 
hurdle,  taken  outside  the  village,  and  burnt.  After 
eight  days  (said  to  be  four  in  the  case  of  rich  men),  the 
corpse-bearers,  and  the  family,  sit  down  to  a  funeral 
feast,  at  which  drinking  is  not  allowed.  A  pig,  fowl,  or 
goat,  according  to  the  circumstances  of  the  family,  forms 
the  meal.  This  is  done  in  some  way  for  the  sake  of  the 
departed,  but  how  is  not  quite  clear. 

"  The  Bonda  Porojas  live  by  cultivation,  keep  cattle, 
pigs,  etc.,  and  eat  beef,  and  even  the  domestic  pig. 
They  pride  themselves,  as  against  their  Hindu  neigh- 
bours, in  that  their  women  eat  with  the  men,  and  not 
of  their  leavings,  and  do  not  leave  their  village.  The 
women,  however,  go  to  shandies  (markets)." 

Pothoria.— Pothoria  or  Pothriya,  meaning  stone,  is 
the  name  of  a  small  class  of  Oriya  stone-cutters  in 
Ganjam,  who  are  addicted  to  snaring  antelopes  by  means 
of  tame  bucks,  which  they  keep  for  the  purpose  of 
decoying  the  wild  ones.  They  employ  Brahmans  as 
purdhits.  Marriage  is  infant,  and  remarriage  of  widows 
is  permitted.     The  females  wear  glass  bangles. 

Pothu.— Pothu  or  Pothula,  meaning  male,  occurs  as 
an  exogamous  sept  of  Devanga,  Medara,  and  Padma 
Sale ;  and  Pothula,  in  the  sense  of  a  male  buffalo,  as  a 
sept  of  Madiga. 


Potia.— Recorded,  in  the  Madras  Census  Report, 
1 90 1,  as  Oriya  mat-makers.  They  are  said  to  be 
immigrants  from  Potia  in  Orissa,  who  call  themselves 
Doluvas.  The  Doluvas,  however,  do  not  recognise 
them,  and  neither  eat  nor  intermarry  with  them. 

Potta  (abdomen). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Boya. 

Potti  (Tamil,  worshipful). — Stated,  in  the  Travan- 
core  Census  Report,  1901,  to  be  the  name  applied  to  all 
Kerala  Brahmans,  who  do  not  come  under  the  specific 
designation  of  Nambutiris. 

Pouzu  (quail). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Devanga. 

Powaku  (tobacco). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Mala. 

Poyilethannaya  (one  who  removes  the  evil  eye). — 
An  exogamous  sept  of  Bant. 

Pradhano  (chief). — A  title  of  Aruva,  Benaiyto,  Odia, 
Kalingi,  Kevuto,  and  Samantiya. 

Pranopakari  (one  who  helps  souls). — A  name  for 
barbers  in  Travancore.  In  the  early  settlement  records, 
Pranu  occurs  as  a  corruption  thereof. 

Prathamasakha. — It  is  recorded,*  in  connection 
with  the  village  of  Koiltirumalam  or  Tiru-ambamahalam, 
that  "  a  new  temple  has  been  recently  built,  and  richly 
endowed  by  Nattukottai  Chettis.  There  is,  however, 
an  old  story  connected  with  the  place,  which  is  enacted 
at  the  largely  attended  festival  here,  and  in  many  popu- 
lar dramas.  This  relates  that  the  god  of  the  Tiruvalur 
temple  was  entreated  by  a  pujari  (priest)  of  this  place 
to  be  present  in  the  village  at  a  sacrifice  in  his  (the 
god's)  honour.  The  deity  consented  at  length,  but  gave 
warning  that  he  would  come  in  a  very  unwelcome  shape. 
He  appeared  as  a  Paraiyan  with  beef  on  his  back  and 
followed  by  the  four  Vedas  in  the  form  of  dogs,  and  took 

•  Gazetteer  of  the  Tanjore  district. 


his  part  in  the  sacrifice  thus  accoutred  and  attended. 
All  the  Brahmans  who  were  present  ran  away,  and  the 
god  was  so  incensed  that  he  condemned  them  to  be 
Paraiyans  for  one  hour  in  the  day,  from  noon  till  i  p.m. 
ever  afterwards.  There  is  a  class  of  Brahmans  called 
Midday  Brahmans,  who  are  found  in  several  districts, 
and  a  colony  of  whom  reside  at  Sedanipuram,  five 
miles  west  of  Nannilam.  It  is  believed  throughout 
the  Tanjore  district  that  the  Midday  Paraiyans  are  the 
descendants  of  the  Brahmans  thus  cursed  by  the  god. 
They  are  supposed  to  expiate  their  defilement  by  stay- 
ing outside  their  houses  for  an  hour  and  a  half  every 
day  at  midday,  and  to  bathe  afterwards  ;  and,  if  they  do 
this,  they  are  much  respected.  Few  of  them,  however, 
observe  this  rule,  and  orthodox  persons  will  not  eat 
with  them,  because  of  this  omission  to  remove  the 
defilement.     They  call  themselves  the  Prathamasakha." 

Prithvi  (earth). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Devanga. 

Puchcha.— Puccha  or  Puchcha  Kaya  (fruit  of  Ci- 
trullus  Colocynthis)  is  the  name  of  a  gotra  or  sept  of 
Boyas,  Komatis,  and  Viramushtis,  who  are  a  class  of 
mendicants  attached  to  the  Komatis.  The  same  name, 
or  picchi  kaya,  denoting  the  water-melon  Citrullus 
vulgaris,  occurs  as  a  sept  or  house-name  of  Panta 
Reddis  and  Seniyans  (Devangas),  the  members  of  which 
may  not  eat  the  fruit.  The  name  Desimarada  has  been 
recently  substituted  by  the  Seniyans  for  picchi  kaya. 

Pudamuri  (pudaya,  a  woman's  cloth  ;  muri,  cut- 
tings).— Defined  by  Mr.  Wigram  as  a  so-called  'marri- 
age '  ceremony  performed  among  the  Nayars  in  North 
Malabar.     {See  Nayar.) 

Pudu  Nattan  (new  country). — A  sub-division  of 

Pu  Islam. — See  Putiya  Islam. 


Pujari.— Pujari  is  an  occupational  title,  meaning 
priest,  or  performer  of  puja  (worship).  It  is  described 
by  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  "^  as  "a  name  applied  to  a  class  of 
priests,  who  mostly  preside  in  the  temples  of  the  female 
deities — the  Grama  Devatas  or  Or  Ammas — and  not  in 
those  of  Vishnu  or  Siva.  They  do  not  wear  the  sacred 
thread,  except  on  solemn  occasions."  Pujari  has  been 
recorded  as  a  title  of  Billavas  as  they  officiate  as  priests 
at  bhutasthanas  (devil  shrines),  and  of  Halepaiks,  and 
Pujali  as  a  title  of  some  Irulas.  Some  families  of 
Kusavans  (potters),  who  manufacture  clay  idols,  are  also 
known  as  pujari.  Puja  occurs  as  a  sub-division  of  the 
Gollas.  Some  criminal  Koravas  travel  in  the  guise  of 
Pujaris,  and  style  themselves  Korava  Pujaris. 

Pula.— A  sub-division  of  Cheruman. 

Pula  (flowers). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Boya,  Padma 
Sale  and  Yerukala. 

Pulan.— Barbers  of  Tamil  origin,  who  have  settled 
in  Travancore. 

Pulavar.— A  title  of  Occhan  and  Panisavan. 

Pulayan.— 6*^^  Cheruman  and  Thanda  Pulayan. 

Puli  (tiger). — Recorded  as  an  exogamous  sept  or 
gotra  of  Balija,  Golla,  Kamma,  and  Medara.  The  equi- 
valent Puliattanaya  occurs  as  an  exogamous  sept  of  Bant. 

Puliakodan. — A  class  of  carpenters  in  Malabar, 
whose  traditional  occupation  is  to  construct  oil  mills. 

Puliasari. — A  division  of  Malabar  Kammalans,  the 
members  of  which  do  mason's  work  (puli,  earth).  Para- 
vas  who  are  engaged  in  a  similar  calling  are,  in  like 
manner,  called  Puli  Kollan. 

Pulikkal. — Recorded,  in  the  Travancore  Census 
Report,  1 90 1,  as  a  sub-division  of  Nayar. 

•  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 
VI- 1 5 


Puliyan.— A  sub-division  of  Nayar. 

Puliyattu.— Recorded,  in  the  Travancore  Census 
Report,  1901,  as  synonymous  with  PuUkkappanikkan,  a 
sub-division  of  Nayar. 

PuUakura  (pot-herbs). — An  exogamous  sept  of 

Pulluvan.— The  Pulluvans  of  Malabar  are  astrolo- 
gers, medicine-men,  priests  and  singers  in  snake  groves. 
The  name  is  fancifully  derived  from  pullu,  a  hawk, 
because  the  Pulluvan  is  clever  in  curing  the  disorders 
which  pregnant  women  and  babies  suffer  from  through 
the  evil  influence  of  these  birds.  The  Pulluvans  are 
sometimes  called  Vaidyans  (physicians). 

As  regards  the  origin  of  the  caste,  the  following 
tradition  is  narrated.*  Agni,  the  fire  god,  had  made 
several  desperate  but  vain  efforts  to  destroy  the  great 
primeval  forest  of  Gandava.  The  eight  serpents  which 
had  their  home  in  the  forest  were  the  chosen  friends  of 
Indra,  who  sent  down  a  deluge,  and  destroyed,  every 
time,  the  fire  which  Agni  kindled  in  order  to  burn  down 
the  forest.  Eventually  Agni  resorted  to  a  stratagem, 
and,  appearing  before  Arjunan  in  the  guise  of  a  Brahman, 
contrived  to  exact  a  promise  to  do  him  any  favour  he 
might  desire.  Agni  then  sought  the  help  of  Arjunan  in 
destroying  the  forest,  and  the  latter  created  a  wonderful 
bow  and  arrows,  which  cut  off  every  drop  of  rain  sent  by 
Indra  for  the  preservation  of  the  forest.  The  birds, 
beasts,  and  other  creatures  which  lived  therein,  fled  in 
terror,  but  most  of  them  were  overtaken  by  the  flames, 
and  were  burnt  to  cinders.  Several  of  the  serpents  also 
were  overtaken  and  destroyed,  but  one  of  them  was 
rescued  by  the  maid-servant  of  a  Brahman,  who  secured 

*  Men  and  Women  of  India,  February  1906. 


the  sacred  reptile  in  a  pot,  which  she  deposited  in  a 
jasmine  bower.  When  the  Brahman  came  to  hear  of 
this,  he  had  the  serpent  removed,  and  turned  the 
maid-servant  adrift,  expelling  at  the  same  time  a  man- 
servant, so  that  the  woman  might  not  be  alone  and 
friendless.  The  two  exiles  prospered  under  the  protec- 
tion of  the  serpent,  which  the  woman  had  rescued  from 
the  flames,  and  became  the  founders  of  the  Pulluvans. 
According  to  another  story,  when  the  great  Gandava 
forest  was  in  conflagration,  the  snakes  therein  were 
destroyed  in  the  flames.  A  large  five-hooded  snake, 
scorched  and  burnt  by  the  fire,  flew  away  in  agony,  and 
alighted  at  Kuttanad,  which  is  said  to  have  been  on  the 
site  of  the  modern  town  of  Alleppey.  Two  women  were 
at  the  time  on  their  way  to  draw  water  from  a  well.  The 
snake  asked  them  to  pour  seven  potfuls  of  water  over 
him,  to  alleviate  his  pain,  and  to  turn  the  pot  sideways, 
so  that  he  could  get  into  it.  His  request  was  complied 
with,  and,  having  entered  the  pot,  he  would  not  leave  it. 
He  then  desired  one  of  the  women  to  take  him  home,  and 
place  him  in  a  room  on  the  west  side  of  the  house. 
This  she  refused  to  do  for  fear  of  the  snake,  and  she  was 
advised  to  cover  the  mouth  of  the  pot  with  a  cloth. 
The  room,  in  which  the  snake  was  placed,  was  ordered 
to  be  closed  for  a  week.  The  woman's  husband,  who  did 
not  know  what  had  occurred,  tried  to  open  the  door,  and 
only  succeeded  by  exerting  all  his  strength.  On  entering 
the  room,  to  his  surprise  he  found  an  ant-hill,  and  dis- 
turbed it.  Thereon  the  snake  issued  forth  from  it,  and 
bit  him.  As  the  result  of  the  bite,  the  man  died,  and 
his  widow  was  left  without  means  of  support.  The 
snake  consoled  her,  and  devised  a  plan,  by  which  she 
could  maintain  herself.  She  was  to  go  from  house  to 
house,  and  cry  out  "  Give  me  alms,  and  be  saved  from 
vi-is  B 


snake  poisoning."  The  inmates  would  give,  and  the 
snakes,  which  were  troubling  their  houses,  would  cease 
from  annoying  them.  For  this  reason,  a  Pulluvan 
and  his  wife,  when  they  go  with  their  pulluva  kudam 
(pot-drum)  to  a  house,  are  asked  to  sing,  and  given 

The  Pulluvar  females,  Mr.  T.  K.  Gopal  Panikkar 
writes,  *  "  take  a  pretty  large  pitcher,  and  close  its 
opening  by  means  of  a  small  circular  piece  of  thin 
leather,  which  is  fastened  on  to  the  vessel  by  means  of 
strings  strongly  tied  round  its  neck.  Another  string  is 
adjusted  to  the  leather  cover,  which,  when  played  on  by 
means  of  the  fingers,  produces  a  hoarse  note,  which  is 
said  to  please  the  gods'  ears,  pacify  their  anger,  and  lull 
them  to  sleep."  In  the  Malabar  Gazetteer,  this  instru- 
ment is  thus  described.  "It  consists  of  an  earthenware 
chatty  with  its  bottom  removed,  and  entirely  covered, 
except  the  mouth,  with  leather.  The  portion  of  the 
leather  which  is  stretched  over  the  bottom  of  the  vessel 
thus  forms  a  sort  of  drum,  to  the  centre  of  which  a  string 
is  attached.  The  other  end  of  the  string  is  fixed  in 
the  cleft  of  a  stick.  The  performer  sits  cross-legged, 
holding  the  chatty  mouth  downwards  with  his  right  hand, 
on  his  right  knee.  The  stick  is  held  firmly  under  the 
right  foot,  resting  on  the  left  leg.  The  performer 
strums  on  the  string,  which  is  thus  stretched  tight,  with 
a  rude  plectrum  of  horn,  or  other  substance.  The  vibra- 
tions communicated  by  the  string  to  the  tympanum 
produce  a  curious  sonorous  note,  the  pitch  of  which 
can  be  varied  by  increasing  or  relaxing  the  tension  of 
the  string."  This  musical  instrument  is  carried  from 
house    to    house    in    the    daytime    by    these    Pulluvar 

•  Malabar  and  its  Folk,  1900. 


females  ;  and,  placing  the  vessel  in  a  particular  position 
on  the  ground,  and  sitting  in  a  particular  fashion  in 
relation  to  the  vessel,  they  play  on  the  string,  which  then 
produces  a  very  pleasant  musical  note.  Then  they  sing 
ballads  to  the  accompaniment  of  these  notes.  After 
continuing  this  for  some  time,  they  stop,  and,  getting 
their  customary  dues  from  the  family,  go  their  own 
way.  It  is  believed  that  the  music,  and  the  ballads, 
are  peculiarly  pleasing  to  the  serpent  gods,  who  bless 
those  for  whose  sakes  the  music  has  been  rendered." 
The  Pulluvans  also  play  on  a  lute  with  snakes  painted 
on  the  reptile  skin,  which  is  used  in  lieu  of  parchment. 
The  skin,  in  a  specimen  at  the  Madras  Museum,  is 
apparently  that  of  the  big  lizard  Varanus  bengalensis. 
The  lute  is  played  with  a  bow,  to  which  a  metal  bell  is 

The  dwelling-houses  of  the  Pulluvans  are  like  those 
of  the  Izhuvans  or  Cherumas.  They  are  generally  mud 
huts,  with  thatched  roof,  and  a  verandah  in  front. 

When  a  girl  attains  maturity,  she  is  placed  apart  in 
a  room.  On  the  seventh  day,  she  is  anointed  by  seven 
young  women,  who  give  an  offering  to  the  demons,  if 
she  is  possessed  by  any.  This  consists  of  the  bark  of  a 
plantain  tree  made  into  the  form  of  a  triangle,  on  which 
small  bits  of  tender  cocoanuts  and  little  torches  are  fixed. 
This  is  waved  round  the  girl's  head,  and  floated  away 
on  water.  As  regards  marriage,  the  Pulluvans  observe 
both  tali-kettu  and  sambandham.  In  the  vicinity  of 
Palghat,  members  of  the  caste  in  the  same  village 
intermarry,  and  have  a  prejudice  against  contracting 
alliances  outside  it.  Thus,  the  Pulluvans  of  Palghat  do 
not  intermarry  with  those  of  Mundur  and  Kanghat, 
which  are  four  and  ten  miles  distant.  It  is  said  that,  in 
former  days,  intercourse  between  brother  and  sister  was 

pulluvan  230 

permitted.  But,  when  questioned  on  this  point,  the 
Pulluvans  absolutely  deny  it.  It  is,  however,  possible 
that  something  of  the  kind  was  once  the  case,  for,  when 
a  man  belonging  to  another  caste  is  suspected  of  incest, 
it  is  said  that  he  is  like  the  Pulluvans.  Should  the 
parents  of  a  married  woman  have  no  objection  to  her 
being  divorced,  they  give  her  husband  a  piece  of  cloth 
called  murikotukkuka.  This  signifies  that  the  cloth 
which  he  gave  is  returned,  and  divorce  is  effected. 

The  Pulluvans  follow  the  makkathayam  law  of 
inheritance  (from  father  to  son).  But  they  seldom  have 
any  property  to  leave,  except  their  hut  and  a  few  earthen 
pots.  They  have  their  caste  assemblies  (parichas), 
which  adjudicate  on  adultery,  theft,  and  other  offences. 

They  believe  firmly  in  magic  and  sorcery,  and  every 
kind  of  sickness  is  attributed  to  the  influence  of  some 
demon.  Abortion,  death  of  a  new-born  baby,  prolonged 
labour,  or  the  death  of  the  woman,  fever,  want  of  milk 
in  the  breasts,  and  other  misfortunes,  are  attributed 
to  malignant  influences.  When  pregnant  women,  or 
even  children,  walk  out  alone  at  midday,  they  are  pos- 
sessed by  them,  and  may  fall  in  convulsions.  Any  slight 
dereliction,  or  indifference  with  regard  to  the  offering 
of  sacrifices,  is  attended  by  domestic  calamities,  and 
sacrifices  of  goats  and  fowls  are  requisite.  More  sacri- 
fices are  promised,  if  the  demons  will  help  them  in  the 
achievement  of  an  object,  or  in  the  destruction  of  an 
enemy.  In  some  cases  the  village  astrologer  is  con- 
sulted, and  he,  by  means  of  his  calculations,  divines  the 
cause  of  an  illness,  and  suggests  that  a  particular  disease 
or  calamity  is  due  to  the  provocation  of  the  family  or 
other  god,  to  whom  sacrifices  or  offerings  have  not 
been  made.  Under  these  circumstances,  a  Velichapad, 
or  oracle,   is    consulted.     After  bathing,  and  dressing 





iff >■  • 

1     ^ 

IR 1  ^  ^9 


'  1   '  '^ 


i  ,         •  .''*'!^ 











himself  in  a  new  mundu  (cloth),  he  enters  on  the  scene 
with  a  sword  in  his  hand,  and  his  legs  girt  with  small 
bells.  Standing  in  front  of  the  deity  in  pious  meditation, 
he  advances  with  slow  steps  and  rolling  eyes,  and  makes 
a  few  frantic  cuts  on  his  forehead.  He  is  already  in 
convulsive  shivers,  and  works  himself  up  to  a  state  of 
frenzied  possession,  and  utters  certain  disconnected 
sentences,  which  are  believed  to  be  the  utterances  of 
the  gods.  Believing  them  to  be  the  means  of  cure  or 
relief  from  calamity,  those  affected  reverentially  bow 
before  the  Velichapad,  and  obey  his  commands.  Some- 
times they  resort  to  a  curious  method  of  calculating 
beforehand  the  result  of  a  project,  in  which  they  are 
engaged,  by  placing  before  the  god  two  bouquets  of 
flowers,  one  red,  the  other  white,  of  which  a  child  picks 
out  one  with  its  eyes  closed.  Selection  of  the  white 
bouquet  predicts  auspicious  results,  of  the  red  the 
reverse.  A  man,  who  wishes  to  bring  a  demon  under 
his  control,  must  bathe  in  the  early  morning  for  forty- 
one  days,  and  cook  his  own  meals.  He  should  have  no 
association  with  his  wife,  and  be  free  from  all  pollution. 
Every  night,  after  lo  o'clock,  he  should  bathe  in  a  tank 
(pond)  or  river,  and  stand  naked  up  to  the  loins  in  the 
water,  while  praying  to  the  god,  whom  he  wishes  to 
propitiate,  in  the  words  "  I  offer  thee  my  prayers,  so 
that  thou  mayst  bless  me  with  what  I  want."  These, 
with  his  thoughts  concentrated  on  the  deity,  he  should 
utter  loi,  i,ooi,  and  100,001  times  during  the  period. 
Should  he  do  this,  in  spite  of  all  obstacles  and  intimida- 
tion by  the  demons,  the  god  will  grant  his  desires.  It 
is  said  to  be  best  for  a  man  to  be  trained  and  guided 
by  a  guru  (preceptor),  as,  if  proper  precautions  are 
not  adopted,  the  result  of  his  labours  will  be  that  he 
goes  mad. 


A  Pulluvan  and  his  wife  preside  at  the  ceremony- 
called  Pamban  Tullal  to  propitiate  the  snake  gods  of  the 
nagattan  kavus,  or  serpent  shrines.  For  this,  a  pandal 
(booth)  is  erected  by  driving  four  posts  into  the  ground, 
and  putting  over  them  a  silk  or  cotton  canopy.  A 
hideous  figure  of  a  huge  snake  is  made  on  the  floor  with 
powders  of  five  colours.  Five  colours  are  essential,  as 
they  are  visible  on  the  necks  of  snakes.  Rice  is  scattered 
over  the  floor.  Worship  is  performed  to  Ganesa,  and 
cocoanuts  and  rice  are  ofl"ered.  Incense  is  burnt,  and 
a  lamp  placed  on  a  plate.  The  members  of  the  family 
go  round  the  booth,  and  the  woman,  from  whom  the 
devil  has  to  be  cast  out,  bathes,  and  takes  her  seat  on 
the  western  side,  holding  a  bunch  of  palm  flowers. 
The  Pulluvan  and  his  wife  begin  the  music,  vocal  and 
instrumental,  the  woman  keeping  time  with  the  pot- 
drum  by  striking  on  a  metal  vessel.  As  they  sing  songs 
in  honour  of  the  snake  deity,  the  young  female  members 
of  the  family,  who  have  been  purified  by  a  bath,  and  are 
seated,  begin  to  quiver,  sway  their  heads  to  and  fro  in 
time  with  the  music,  and  the  tresses  of  their  hair  are  let 
loose.  In  their  state  of  excitement,  they  beat  upon  the 
floor,  and  rub  out  the  figure  of  the  snake  with  palm 
flowers.  This  done,  they  proceed  to  the  snake-grove, 
and  prostrate  themselves  before  the  stone  images  of 
snakes,  and  recover  consciousness.  They  take  milk, 
water  from  a  tender  cocoanut,  and  plantains.  The 
Pulluvan  stops  singing,  and  the  ceremony  is  over. 
"  Sometimes,"  Mr.  Gopal  Panikkar  writes,  "  the  gods 
appear  in  the  bodies  of  all  these  females,  and  sometimes 
only  in  those  of  a  select  few,  or  none  at  all.  The  refusal 
of  the  gods  to  enter  into  such  persons  is  symbolical  of 
some  want  of  cleanliness  in  them :  which  contingency 
is  looked  upon  as  a  source  of  anxiety  to  the  individual. 


It  may  also  suggest  the  displeasure  of  these  gods 
towards  the  family,  in  respect  of  which  the  ceremony  is 
performed.  In  either  case,  such  refusal  on  the  part  of 
the  gods  is  an  index  of  their  ill-will  or  dissatisfaction. 
In  cases  where  the  gods  refuse  to  appear  in  any  one  of 
those  seated  for  the  purpose,  the  ceremony  is  prolonged 
until  the  gods  are  so  properly  propitiated  as  to  constrain 
them  to  manifest  themselves.  Then,  after  the  lapse  of 
the  number  of  days  fixed  for  the  ceremony,  and,  after 
the  will  of  the  serpent  gods  is  duly  expressed,  the 
ceremonies  close."  Sometimes,  it  is  said,  it  may  be 
considered  necessary  to  rub  away  the  figure  as  many 
as  loi  times,  in  which  case  the  ceremony  is  prolonged 
over  several  weeks.  Each  time  that  the  snake  design 
is  destroyed,  one  or  two  men,  with  torches  in  their 
hands,  perform  a  dance,  keeping  step  to  the  Pullu- 
van's  music.  The  family  may  eventually  erect  a  small 
platform  or  shrine  in  a  corner  of  their  grounds,  and 
worship  at  it  annually.  The  snake  deity  will  not,  it 
is  believed,  manifest  himself  if  any  of  the  persons,  or 
articles  required  for  the  ceremony,  are  impure,  e.g.^  if 
the  pot-drum  has  been  polluted  by  the  touch  of  a 
menstruating  female.  The  Pulluvan,  from  whom  a 
drum  was  purchased  for  the  Madras  Museum,  was  very 
reluctant  to  part  with  it,  lest  it  should  be  touched  by  an 
impure  woman. 

The  Pulluvans  worship  the  gods  of  the  Brahmanical 
temples,  from  a  distance,  and  believe  in  spirits  of 
all  sorts  and  conditions.  They  worship  Velayuthan, 
Ayyappa,  Rahu,  Muni,  Chathan,  Mukkan,  Karinkutti, 
Parakutti,  and  others.  Muni  is  a  well-disposed  deity, 
to  whom,  once  a  year,  rice,  plantains,  and  cocoanuts  are 
offered.  To  Mukkan,  Karinkutti,  and  others,  sheep  and 
fowls  are  offered.     A  floral  device  (padmam)  is  drawn 


on  the  floor  with  nine  divisions  in  rice-flour,  on  each  of 
which  a  piece  of  tender  cocoanut  leaf,  and  a  lighted  wick 
dipped  in  cocoanut  oil,  are  placed.  Parched  rice,  boiled 
beans,  jaggery  (crude  sugar),  cakes,  plantains,  and  toddy 
are  offered,  and  camphor  and  incense  burnt.  If  a  sheep 
has  to  be  sacrificed,  boiled  rice  is  offered,  and  water 
sprinkled  over  the  head  of  the  sheep  before  it  is  killed. 
If  it  shakes  itself,  so  that  it  frees  itself  from  the  water, 
it  is  considered  as  a  favourable  omen.  On  every  new- 
moon  day,  offerings  of  mutton,  fowls,  rice-balls,  toddy, 
and  other  things,  served  up  on  a  plantain  leaf,  are  made 
to  the  souls  of  the  departed.  The  celebrants,  who  have 
bathed  and  cooked  their  own  food  on  the  previous  day, 
prostrate  themselves,  and  say  "  Ye  dead  ancestors,  we 
offer  what  we  can  aflbrd.  May  you  take  the  gifts,  and 
be  pleased  to  protect  us." 

The  Pulluvans  bury  their  dead.  The  place  of  burial 
is  near  a  river,  or  in  a  secluded  spot  near  the  dwelling  of 
the  deceased.  The  corpse  is  covered  with  a  cloth,  and 
a  cocoanut  placed  with  it.  Offerings  of  rice-balls  are 
made  by  the  son  daily  for  fifteen  days,  when  pollution 
ceases,  and  a  feast  is  held. 

At  the  present  day,  some  Pulluvans  work  at  various 
forms  of  labour,  such  as  sowing,  ploughing,  reaping, 
fencing,  and  cutting  timber,  for  which  they  are  paid  in 
money  or  kind.  They  are,  in  fact,  day-labourers,  living 
in  huts  built  on  the  waste  land  of  some  landlord,  for 
which  they  pay  a  nominal  ground-rent.  They  will  take 
food  prepared  by  Brahmans,  Nayars,  Kammalans,  and 
Izhuvas,  but  not  that  prepared  by  a  Mannan  or  Kaniyan. 
Carpenters  and  Izhuvas  bathe  when  a  Pulluvan  has 
touched  them.  But  the  Pulluvans  are  polluted  by 
Cherumas,  Pulayas,  Paraiyans,  Ulladans,  and  others. 
The  women  wear  the  kacha,  like  Izhuva  women,  folded 


twice,  and  worn  round  the  loins,  and  are  seldom  seen 
with  an  upper  body-cloth.* 

Puluvan.— "The  Puluvans  have  been  described  t  as 
"  a  small  tribe  of  cultivators  found  in  the  district  of 
Coimbatore.  Puluvans  are  the  learned  men  among  the 
Coimbatore  Vellalas,  and  are  supposed  to  be  the  deposi- 
taries of  the  poet  Kamban's  works.  One  authority 
from  Coimbatore  writes  that  the  traditional  occupa- 
tion of  this  caste  is  military  service,  and  derives  the 
word  from  bhu,  earth,  and  valavan,  a  ruler  ;  while 
another  thinks  that  the  correct  word  is  Puruvan, 
aborigines.  Their  girls  are  married  usually  after 
they  attain  maturity.  In  the  disposal  of  the  dead, 
both  cremation  and  burial  are  in  vogue,  the  tendency 
being  towards  the  former.  They  are  flesh-eaters. 
Their  customs  generally  resemble  those  of  the  Konga 

The  Puluvans  call  themselves  Puluva  Vellalas. 

Punamalli.— The  name  of  a  division  of  Vellalas 
derived  from  Poonamallee,  an  old  military  station  near 

Puni.— A  sub-division  of  Golla. 

Punjala  (cock,  or  male). — An  exogamous  sept  of 

Puppalli.— 6"^^  Unni. 

Puragiri  Kshatriya.— A  name  assumed  by  some 

Puramalai,  Puramalainadu  or  Piramalainadu.— 
A  territorial  sub-division  of  Kalian. 

Puranadi.^Barbers  and  priests  of  the  Velans  of 
Travancore,  who  are  also  called  Velakkuruppu. 

*  This  account  is  mainly  based  on  a  note  by  Mr.  L.  K.  Anantha  Krishna 

t  Madras  Census  Report,  1891. 


Purattu  Charna. — A  sub-division  of  Nayar. 

Purusha. — See  J5gi  Purusha. 

Pusa  (beads). — A  sub-division  of  Balija.  A  sub- 
division of  the  Yerukalas  is  known  as  Pusalavadu,  or 
sellers  of  glass  beads. 

Pusali.— A  title  of  Occhans,  or  pujaris  (priests)  at 
temples  of  Grama  Devatas  (village  deities). 

Pusapati.— The  family  name  of  the  Maharajahs  of 
Vizianagram.  From  the  Kshatriyas  in  Rajputana  people 
of  four  gotrams  are  said  to  have  come  to  the  Northern 
Circars  several  centuries  ago,  having  the  Pusapati 
family  at  their  head.^  The  name  of  the  present  Maha- 
raja is  Mirza  Rajah  Sri  Pusapati  Viziarama  Gajapati  Raj 
Manya  Sultan  Bahadur  Garu. 

Pushpakan.^A  class  of  Ambalavasis  in  Malabar 
and  Travancore.  "  As  their  name  (pushpam,  a  flower) 
implies,  they  are  employed  in  bringing  flowers  and 
garlands  to  the  temples."  f     See  Unni. 

Puthukka  Nattar  (people  of  the  new  country). — 
A  sub-division  of  Idaiyan. 

Putiya  Islam.— Pu  Islam  or  Putiya  Islam  is  the 
name  returned  mostly  by  Mukkuvans,  in  reference  to 
their  new  conversion  to  the  Muhammadan  faith. 

Putta  (ant-hill). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Kamma, 
Kuruba,  Mala,  Medara,  and  Padma  Sale.  *  White-ant ' 
[Termites)  hills  are  frequently  worshipped  as  being  the 
abode  of  snakes. 

Puttiya.— A  sub-division  of  Rona. 

Puttur.— Recorded,  in  the  Travancore  Census 
Report,  1 90 1,  as  a  sub-division  of  Nayar. 

Puzhi  Tacchan  (sand  carpenter). — The  name  of  a 
small  section  of  Malabar  Kammalans. 

*  Manual  of  the  Vizagapatam  district.  t  Manual  of  Malabar. 


Racha  (=  Raja). — Racha  or  Rachu,  signifying  regal, 
occurs  as  the  title  of  various  Telugu  classes,  for 
example,  Balija,  Golla,  Kapu,  Konda  Dora,  Koya, 
Majjulu,  and  Velama.  Some  Perikes,  who  claim  to  be 
Kshatriyas,  call  themselves  Racha  Perikes.  Racha  is 
further  given  as  an  abbreviated  form  of  Mutracha. 

Rachevar.-^It  is  noted,  in  the  Mysore  Census 
Report,  1901,  that  "there  are  three  broad  distinctions 
founded  on  the  traditional  occupation,  but  there  are 
two  main  exclusive  divisions  of  Telugu  and  Kannada 
Rachevars.  One  set,  called  Ranagare,  are  military, 
and  most  of  them  are  found  employed  in  His  Highness 
the  Maharaja's  Rachevar  and  Bale  forces.  The  second, 
consisting  of  the  Chitragaras  or  Bannagaras,  make  good 
paintings,  decorations,  and  lacquered  ware  and  toys. 
The  last  consists  of  the  Sarige,  or  gold  lace  makers. 
These  people  claim  to  be  Kshatriyas — a  pretension  not 
generally  acquiesced  in  by  the  other  castes.  They 
trace  their  origin  to  a  passage  in  Brahmanda  Purana, 
wherein  it  is  said  that,  for  an  injury  done  to  a  Brahman, 
they  were  condemned  to  follow  mechanical  occupations." 
In  connection  with  recent  Dasara  festivities  at  Mysore, 
I  read  that  there  were  wrestling  matches,  acrobatic  feats, 
dumb-bell  and  figure  exercises  by  Rachevars. 

In  the  Tanjore  Manual  it  is  noted  that  the  Rache- 
vars are  "  descendants  of  immigrants  from  the  Telugu 
country,  who  apparently  followed  the  Nayak  viceroys 
of  the  Vijayanagar  empire  in  the  sixteenth  century. 
They  are  more  or  less  jealous  of  the  purity  of  their 
caste.  Their  language  is  Telugu.  They  wear  the 
sacred  thread." 

In  the  city  of  Madras,  and  in  other  places  in  Tamil 
country,  the  Rachevars  are  called  Razus  or  Mucchis, 
who  must  not  be  confused  with  the  Mucchis  of  Mysore 

RAFIZI  238 

and  the  Ceded  districts,  who  are  shoe-makers,  and  speak 
Marat  hi.  In  the  Telugu  country,  there  are  two  distinct 
sections  of  Rachevars,  viz.,  Saivite  and  Vaishnavite. 
The  Saivite  Rachevars  in  the  Kistna  district  style 
themselves  Arya  Kshatriyalu,  but  they  are  commonly 
called  Nakash-vandlu,  which  is  a  Hindustani  synonym 
of  Chitrakara  or  Jinigiri-vandlu.  The  Vaishnavites  are 
known  as  Jinigiri-vandlu,  and  are  said  not  to  intermarry 
with  the  Saivites. 

Rafizi.— A  term,  meaning  a  forsaker,  used  by  Sunni 
Muhammadans  for  any  sect  of  Shiahs.  The  name 
appears,  in  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  as  Rabjee. 

Ragala  (ragi :  Eleusine  Coracana). — An  exogamous 
sept  of  Chembadi,  Korava  and  Madiga.  The  equivalent 
Ragithannaya  occurs  as  an  exogamous  sept  of  Bant. 
Ragi  grain  constitutes  the  staple  diet  of  the  poorer 
classes,  who  cannot  afford  rice,  and  of  prisoners  in  jails, 
for  whom  it  is  ground  into  flour,  and  boiled  into  a 
pudding  about  the  consistency  of  blanc-mange.  The 
name  is  derived  from  raga,  red,  in  reference  to  the  red 
colour  of  the  grain. 

Raghindala  (pipal :  Ficus  religiosa). — A  gotra  of 
Gollas,  the  members  of  which  are  not  allowed  to  use 
the  leaves  of  this  tree  as  food-plates. 

Rajakan.— A  Sanskrit  equivalent  of  Vannan 

Rajamahendram.— The  name,  in  reference  to  the 
town  of  Rajahmundry  in  the  Godavari  district,  of  a 
sub-division  of  Balija. 

Rajamakan.— A  Tamil  synonym  for  the  Telugu 

Rajavasal.— The  name,  denoting  those  who  are 
servants  of  Rajas,  of  a  sub-division  of  Agamudaiyans, 
which  has  been  transformed  into  Rajavamsu,  meaning 


those  of  kingly  parentage.  The  equivalent  Rajavamsam 
is  recorded,  in  the  Census  Report,  1901,  as  being 
returned  by  some  Maravans  in  Madura  and  Kurumbans 
in  Trichinopoly.  Rajakulam,  Rajabasha,  or  Rajaboga 
occurs  as  a  sub-division  of  Agamudaiyan. 

Rajpinde. — See  Arasu. 

Rajpuri.— The  Rajpuris,  or  Rajapuris,  are  a 
Konkani-speaking  caste  of  traders  and  cultivators  in 
South  Canara.  Concerning  them,  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart 
writes  as  follows.*  **The  Rajapuris,  also  called 
Balolikars,  were  originally  traders,  and  perhaps  have 
some  claim  to  be  considered  Vaisyas.  In  social  status 
they  admit  themselves  to  be  inferior  only  to  Brahmans. 
They  wear  the  sacred  thread,  profess  the  Saiva  faith, 
and  employ  Karadi  Brahmans  as  priests  in  all  their 
ceremonies.  Their  girls  should  be  married  before  the 
age  of  puberty,  and  marriage  of  widows  is  not  permitted. 
The  marriage  ceremony  chiefly  consists  in  the  hands  of 
the  bride  and  bridegroom  being  united  together,  and 
held  by  the  bride's  father  while  her  mother  pours  water 
over  them.  The  water  should  first  fall  on  the  bride's 
hands,  and  then  flow  on  to  those  of  the  bridegroom. 
This  takes  place  at  the  bride's  house.  A  curious  feature 
in  the  ceremony  is  that  for  four  days  either  the  bride  or 
bridegroom  should  occupy  the  marriage  bed ;  it  must 
never  be  allowed  to  become  vacant.  [This  ceremony  is 
called  pajamadmai,  or  mat  marriage.]  On  the  fourth 
day,  the  couple  go  to  the  bridegroom's  house,  where  a 
similar  *  sitting  '  on  the  marriage  bed  takes  place.  They 
are  mostly  vegetarians,  rice  being  their  chief  food,  but 
some  use  fish,  and  rear  fowls  and  goats  for  sale  as  food. 
Many  are  now  cultivators." 

♦  Manual  of  the  South  Canara  district, 

RAJPUT  240 

It  may  be  noted  that,  among  the  Shivalli  Brahmans, 
the  mat  is  taken  to  a  tank  in  procession.  The  bride 
and  bridegroom  make  a  pretence  of  catching  fish,  and, 
with  Hnked  hands,  touch  their  foreheads. 

In  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1891,  Rajapuri 
Konkanasta  is  given  as  a  synonym  of  the  Rajapuris,  who 
are  said  to  be  one  of  the  sixty-six  classes  of  Konkanasta 
people,  who  inhabited  the  sixty-six  villages  of  the 
Konkan.  In  the  Census  Report,  1901,  Kudaldeshkara 
and  Kudlukara  are  returned  as  sub-divisions  of  Rajapuri. 
The  Kudlukaras  are  Konkani-speaking  confectioners, 
who  follow  the  Brahmanical  customs. 

Rajput. — The  Rajputs  (Sanskrit,  raja-putra,  son  of 
a  king)  have  been  defined  *  as  "  the  warrior  and  land- 
owning race  of  Northern  India,  who  are  also  known  as 
Thakur,  lord,  or  Chhatri,  the  modern  representative  of 
the  ancient  Kshatriya."  At  the  Madras  census,  1891 
and  1 90 1,  the  number  of  individuals,  who  returned 
themselves  as  Rajputs,  was  13,754  and  15,273.  "It 
needs,"  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  writes,  t  "  but  a  cursory 
examination  of  the  sub-divisions  returned  under  the 
head  Rajput  to  show  that  many  of  these  individuals  have 
no  claim  whatever  to  the  title  of  Rajput.  The  number 
of  pure  Rajputs  in  this  Presidency  must  be  very  small 
indeed,  and  I  only  mention  the  caste  in  order  to  explain 
that  the  number  of  persons  returning  it  is  far  in  excess 
of  the  actual  number  of  Rajputs."  Mr.  Stuart  writes 
further!  concerning  the  Rajputs  of  the  North  Arcot 
district  that  "there  are  but  few  of  this  caste  in  the 
district,  and  they  chiefly  reside  in  Vellore  ;  a  few  families 
are  also  found  in  Chittoor  and  Tirupati.  They  assert 
that  they  are  true  Kshatriyas  who  came  from  Rajputana 

*  W.  Crooke.     Tribes  and  Castes  of  the  North- Western  Provinces  and  Oudh. 
t  Madras  Census  Report,  1891.        %  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 

241  rAlla 

with  the  Muhammadan  armies,  and  they,  more  than  any 
other  claimants  to  a  Kshatriya  descent,  have  maintained 
their  fondness  for  military  service.  Almost  all  are  sepoys 
or  military  pensioners.  Their  names  always  end  with 
Singh,  and  in  many  of  their  customs  they  resemble  the 
Muhammadans,  speaking  Hindustani,  and  invariably 
keeping  their  wives  gosha.  They  are  often  erroneously 
spoken  of  by  the  people  as  Bondilis,  a  term  which  is 
applicable  only  to  the  Vaisya  and  Sudra  immigrants 
from  Northern  India  ;  but  doubtless  many  of  these  lower 
classes  have  taken  the  title  Singh,  and  called  themselves 
Rajputs.  Members  of  the  caste  are,  therefore,  very 
suspicious  of  strangers  professing  to  be  Rajputs.  Their 
cooking  apartment,  called  chowka,  is  kept  most  religi- 
ously private,  and  a  line  is  drawn  round  it,  beyond  which 
none  but  members  of  the  family  itself  may  pass.  At 
marriages  and  feasts,  for  the  same  reason,  cooked  food  is 
never  offered  to  the  guests,  but  raw  grain  is  distributed, 
which  each  cooks  in  a  separate  and  private  place." 

It  is  noted,*  in  connection  with  the  battle  of  Padma- 
nabham  in  the  Vizagapatam  district,  in  1794,  that  "no 
correct  list  of  the  wounded  was  ever  procured,  but  no 
less  than  three  hundred  and  nine  were  killed.  Of  these 
two  hundred  and  eight  were  Rajputs,  and  the  bodies  of 
forty  Rajputs,  of  the  first  rank  in  the  country,  formed  a 
rampart  round  the  corpse  of  Viziarama  Razu.  Padma- 
nabham  will  long  be  remembered  as  the  Flodden  of  the 
Rajputs  of  Vizianagram." 

Rakshasa  (a  mythological  giant). — An  exogamous 
sept  of  Toreya. 

Ralla  (precious  stones). — A  sub-division  of  Balijas 
who  cut,  polish,  and  trade  in  precious  stones.     A  further 

•  Gazetteer  of  the  Vizagapatam  district. 

VI- 1 6 


sub-division  into  Mutiala  (pearl)  and  Kempulu  (rubies) 
is  said  to  exist. 

Ramadosa  {Cucumis  Melo  :  sweet  melon). — A  sept 
of  Viramushti. 

Rama  Kshatri.— A  synonym  of  Servegara. 

Ramanuja.— Satanis  style  themselves  people  of 
the  Ramanuja  Matham  (religious  sect)  in  reference  to 
Ramanuja,  the  Tamil  Brahman,  who  founded  the  form 
of  Vaishnavism  which  prevails  in  Southern  India. 

Ranaratod. — An  exogamous  sept  of  the  Kuruvik- 
karans,  who  call  themselves  Ratodi. 

Ranaviran, — A  name,  meaning  a  brave  warrior, 
returned  by  some  Chakkiliyans. 

Randam  Parisha  (second  party). — A  section  of 
E  lay  ad. 

Rangari.— The  Rangaris  are  summed  up,  in  the 
Madras  Census  Report,  1891,  as  being  "  a  caste  of  dyers 
and  tailors  found  in  almost  all  the  Telugu  districts. 
They  are  of  Maratha  origin,  and  still  speak  that  langu- 
age. They  worship  the  goddess  Ambabhavani.  The 
dead  are  either  burned  or  buried.     Their  title  is  Rao." 

In  an  account  of  the  Rangaris  of  the  North  Arcot 
district,  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  WTites  that  "  Rangari  is  a 
caste  of  dyers,  chiefly  found  in  Walajapet.  They  claim 
to  be  Kshatriyas,  who  accompanied  Rama  in  his  con- 
quest of  Ceylon,  from  which  fact  one  of  their  names, 
Langari  (lanka,  the  island,  i.e.,  Ceylon),  is  said  to  be 
derived.  Rama,  for  some  reason  or  other,  became 
incensed  against,  and  persecuted  them.  Most  were 
destroyed,  but  a  respectable  Kshatriya  lady  saved  her 
two  sons  by  taking  off  their  sacred  threads  and  causing 
one  to  pretend  that  he  was  a  tailor  sewing,  and  the 
other  that  he  was  a  dyer,  colouring  his  thread  with  the 
red  betel  nut  and  leaf,  which  she  hurriedly  supplied  out 


of  her  mouth.  The  boys  became  the  progenitors  of  the 
caste,  the  members  of  which  now  wear  the  thread.  The 
descendants  of  the  one  brother  are  tailors,  and  of  the 
other,  the  most  numerous,  dyers.  Their  chief  feasts 
are  the  Dassara  and  Kaman,  the  former  celebrated  in 
honour  of  the  goddess  Tuljabhavani  and  the  latter  of 
Manmada,  the  Indian  Cupid,  fabled  to  have  been 
destroyed  by  the  flame  of  Siva's  third  eye.  During 
the  Kaman  feast,  fires  of  combustible  materials  are 
lighted,  round  which  the  votaries  gather,  and,  beating 
their  mouths,  exclaim  '  laba,  laba',  lamenting  the  death 
of  Cupid.  In  this  feast  Rajputs,  Mahrattas,  Bondilis, 
and  Guzeratis  also  join.  The  Rangaris  speak  Marathi, 
which  they  write  in  the  northern  character,  and  name 
Poona  and  Sholapur  as  the  places  in  which  they 
originally  resided.  In  appearance  they  do  not  at  all 
resemble  the  other  claimants  to  Kshatriya  descent,  the 
Razus  and  Rajputs,  for  they  are  poorly  developed  and 
by  no  means  handsome.  Widow  remarriage  is  permit- 
ted where  children  have  not  been  born,  but  remarried 
widows  are  prohibited  from  taking  part  in  religious 
processions,  which  seems  a  sign  that  the  concession  has 
been  reluctantly  permitted.  In  most  of  their  customs 
they  differ  but  little  from  the  Razus,  eating  meat  and 
drinking  spirits,  but  not  keeping  their  women  gosha." 

All  the  Rangaris  examined  by  me  at  Adoni  in  the 
Bellary  district  were  tailors.  Like  other  Maratha 
classes  they  had  a  high  cephalic  index  (av.  79  ;  max. 
92),  and  it  was  noticeable  that  the  breadth  of  the  head 
exceeded  15  cm.  in  nine  out  of  thirty  individuals. 

In  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  Bahusagara, 
Malla  or  Mulla,  and  Namdev  are  given  as  synonyms,  and 
Chimpiga  (tailor)  and  Unupulavadu  (dyer)  as  sub-castes 
of  Rangari. 

VI-16  B 


Raniyava.— The  Raniyavas  are  Canarese-speaking 
Holeyas,  who  are  found  near  Kap,  Karkal,  Mudibidri, 
and  Mulki  in  South  Canara.  They  consider  themselves 
to  be  superior  to  the  Tulu-speaking  Holeyas,  such  as 
the  Mari  and  Mundala  Holeyas. 

The  Raniyavas  regard  Virabadra  Swami  as  their 
tribal  deity,  and  also  worship  Mari,  to  whom  they  sacri- 
fice a  buffalo  periodically.  The  bhuta  (devil),  which  is 
most  commonly  worshipped,  is  Varthe.  They  profess 
to  be  Saivites,  because  they  are  the  disciples  of  the 
Lingayat  priest  at  Gurupur. 

Marriage  is,  as  a  rule,  infant,  though  the  marriage 
of  adult  girls  is  not  prohibited.  The  marriage  rites 
are  celebrated  beneath  a  pandal  (booth)  supported  by 
twelve  pillars.  As  among  the  Tulu  castes,  the  chief 
item  in  the  marriage  ceremony  is  the  pouring  of  water 
over  the  united  hands  of  the  bridal  couple,  who  are 
not,  like  the  Canarese  Holeyas  in  Mysore,  separated  by 
a  screen. 

Women  who  are  found  guilty  of  adultery,  or  of  illicit 
intercourse  before  marriage,  are  not  allowed  to  wear 
bangles,  nose-screw,  or  black  bead  necklaces,  and  are 
treated  like  widows.  Men  who  have  been  proved  guilty 
of  seduction  are  not  allowed  to  take  part  in  the  caste 
council  meetings. 

On  the  occasion  of  the  first  menstrual  period,  a  girl 
is  under  pollution  for  twelve  days.  Eleven  girls  pour 
water  over  her  head  daily.  On  the  thirteenth  day,  the 
castemen  are  fed,  and,  if  the  girl  is  married,  consum- 
mation takes  place. 

Married  men  and  women  are  cremated,  and  unmarried 
persons  buried.  On  the  day  of  death,  toddy  must  be 
given  to  those  who  assemble.  Cooked  meat  and  food 
are  offered  to  the  deceased  on  the  third,  seventh,  and 

245  RAvulo 

thirteenth  days,  and,  on  the  seventh  day,  toddy  must  be 
freely  given.  , 

Rao.— The  title  of  Desastha  Brahmans,  and  various 
Maratha  classes,  Jains,  and  Servegaras.  Some  Perikes, 
who  claim  Kshatriya  origin,  have  also  assumed  Rao 
(=Raya,  king)  instead  of  the  more  humble  Anna  or  Ayya 
as  a  title. 

Rarakkar.^The  Rarakkars  or  Vicharakkars  are 
exorcisers  for  the  Kuravans  of  Travancore. 

Rati  (stone). — A  sub-division  of  Odde. 

Ratna  (precious  stones). — An  exogamous  sept  of 
Kuruba.  The  equivalent  Ratnala  is  a  synonym  of  Ralla 
Balijas,  who  deal  in  precious  stones. 

Rattu.^A  sub-division  of  Kaikolan. 

Ravari.— Recorded,  in  the  Madras  Census  Report, 
1 90 1,  as  a  trading  section  of  the  Nayars.  The  word  is 
said  to  be  a  corruption  of  Vyapari,  meaning  trader.  The 
equivalent  Raveri  occurs  as  a  class  inhabiting  the  Lacca- 
dive  islands. 

Ravi  Chettu  (pipal  tree :  Ficus  religiosa). — An 
exogamous  sept  of  Kalingi.  The  pipal  or  aswatha  tree 
may  be  seen,  in  many  South  Indian  villages,  with  a 
raised  platform  round  it,  before  which  Hindus  remove 
their  shoes,  and  bow  down.  On  the  platform,  village 
council  meetings  are  often  held.  It  is  believed  that 
male  offspring  will  be  given  to  childless  couples,  if  they 
celebrate  a  marriage  of  the  pipal  with  the  nim  tree 
{Melia  Azadirachta). 

Ravulo. — It  is  recorded,  in  the  Madras  Census 
Report,  1901,  that  "there  are  three  castes  of  temple 
servants  among  the  Oriyas,  the  Ravulos,  the  Malis  and 
the  Munis.  The  Ravulos  blow  conches  (shells  of 
Turbinella  rapa)  in  the  Saivite  temples  and  at  Brah- 
mans' weddings,  sell  flowers,  and  regard  themselves  as 

RAVULO  246 

superior  to  the  other  two.  The  Mails  do  service  in 
Saivite  or  Vaishnavite  temples  and  sell  flowers,  but  the 
Munis  are  employed  only  in  the  temples  of  the  village 
goddesses.  Among  the  Ravulos,  infant  marriage  is 
compulsory,  but  widow  marriage  is  allowed,  and  also 
divorce  in  certain  cases.  A  curious  account  is  given  of 
the  punishment  sometimes  inflicted  by  the  caste  pan- 
chayat  (council)  on  a  man  who  ill-treats  and  deserts  his 
wife.  He  is  made  to  sit  under  one  of  the  bamboo  coops 
with  which  fish  are  caught,  and  his  wife  sits  on  the 
top  of  it.  Five  pots  of  water  are  then  poured  over  the 
pair  of  them  in  imitation  of  the  caste  custom  of  pouring 
five  pots  of  water  over  a  dead  body  before  it  is  taken 
to  the  burning-ground,  the  ceremony  taking  place  in 
the  part  of  the  house  where  a  corpse  would  be  washed. 
The  wife  then  throws  away  a  ladle,  and  breaks  a  cooking- 
pot  just  as  she  would  have  done  had  her  husband  really 
been  dead,  and  further  breaks  her  bangles  and  tears  off 
her  necklace,  just  as  would  have  been  done  if  she  was 
really  a  widow.  Having  thus  signified  that  her  husband 
is  dead  to  her,  she  goes  straight  off  to  her  parents' 
house,  and  is  free  to  marry  again.  Some  Ravulos  wear 
the  sacred  thread.  They  employ  Brahmans  as  priests 
for  religious  and  ceremonial  purposes.  They  eat  fish 
and  meat,  though  not  beef  or  fowls,  but  do  not  drink 
alcohol.  Nowadays  many  of  them  are  earth-workers, 
cart-drivers,  bricklayers,  carpenters  and  day  labourers." 
It  is  further  noted,  in  the  Census  Report,  that  Mali  is 
"an  Oriya  caste  of  vegetable  growers  and  sellers,  and 
cultivators.  Also  a  caste  belonging  to  Bengal  and 
Orissa,  the  people  of  which  are  garland  makers  and 
temple  servants.  The  statistics  confuse  the  two."  In 
an  account  of  the  Ravulos,  as  given  to  me,  Ravulos, 
Munis,  and   Malis  are  not  three  castes,  but  one  caste. 

247  rAzu 

The  Munis  are  said  to  worship,  among  others,  Munis  or 
Rishis,  Sakti,  Siva,  and  Ganesa.  A  Muni,  named  Sarala 
Doss,  was  the  author  of  the  most  popular  Oriya  version 
of  the  Mahabharata,  and  he  is  known  as  Sudra  Muni, 
the  Sudra  saint. 

Ravulo  occurs  further  as  a  title  of  Kurumos  who 
officiate  as  priests  in  Siva  temples  in  Ganjam,  and  Muni 
as  a  title  of  the  Sipiti  temple  servants. 

Ravutan.'^Ravutan,  or  Rowthan,  is  a  title  used  by 
Labbai,  Marakkayar,  and  Jonagan  Muhammadans.  The 
equivalent  Ravut  or  Raut  has  been  recorded  as  a  sub- 
caste  of  Balija,  and  a  title  of  Kannadiyan. 

Raya  Rauturu.— The  name  of  certain  chunam 
[lime]  burners  in  Mysore. 

Rayan.^A  title  assumed  by  some  Pallis  or  Vanni- 
yans,  who  wear  the  sacred  thread,  and  claim  to  be 

Rayi  (stone). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Mala. 

Razu.— The  Razus,  or  Raj  us,  are  stated,  in  the 
Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  to  be  "perhaps  descend- 
ants of  the  military  section  of  the  Kapu,  Kamma,  arid 
Velama  castes.  At  their  weddings  they  worship  a 
sword,  which  is  a  ceremony  which  usually  denotes  a  soldier 
caste.  They  say  they  are  Kshatriyas,  and  at  marriages 
use  a  string  made  of  cotton  and  wool,  the  combination 
peculiar  to  Kshatriyas,  to  tie  the  wrist  of  the  happy 
couple.  But  they  eat  fowls,  which  a  strict  Kshatriya 
would  not  do,  and  their  claims  are  not  universally 
admitted  by  other  Hindus.  They  have  three  endoga- 
mous  sub-divisions,  viz.,  Murikinati,  Nandimandalam, 
and  Suryavamsam,  of  which  the  first  two  are  territo- 
rial." According  to  another  version,  the  sub-divisions 
are  Surya  (sun),  Chandra  (moon),  and  Nandimandalam. 
In   a  note  on  the  Razus  of  the  Godavari  district,   the 

RAZU  248 

Rev.  J.  Cain  sub-divides  them  into  Suryavamsapu,  Chan- 
dravamsapu,  Veliveyabadina,  or  descendants  of  excom- 
municated Suryavamsapu  and  Razulu.  It  may  be  noted 
that  some  Konda  Doras  call  themselves  Raja  ( =  Razu) 
Kapus  or  Reddis,  and  Suryavamsam  (of  the  solar  race). 
"In  the  Godavari  delta,"  Mr.  Cain  writes,  "there  are 
several  families  called  Basava  Razulu,  in  consequence, 
it  is  said,  of  their  ancestors  having  accidentally  killed 
a  basava  or  sacred  bull.  As  a  penalty  for  this  crime, 
before  a  marriage  takes  place  in  these  families,  they  are 
bound  to  select  a  young  bull  and  young  cow,  and  cause 
these  two  to  be  duly  married  first,  and  then  they  are  at 
liberty  to  proceed  with  their  own  ceremony." 

Of  the  Razus,  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  writes*  that  "this 
is  a  Telugu  caste,  though  represented  by  small  bodies 
in  some  of  the  Tamil  districts.  They  are  most  numerous 
in  Cuddapah  and  North  Arcot,  to  which  districts  they 
came  with  the  Vijayanagar  armies.  It  is  evident  that 
Razu  has  been  returned  by  a  number  of  individuals 
who,  in  reality,  belong  to  other  castes,  but  claim  to  be 
Kshatriyas.  The  true  Razus  also  make  this  claim,  but 
it  is,  of  course,  baseless,  unless  Kshatriya  is  taken  to 
mean  the  military  class  without  any  reference  to  Aryan 
origin.  In  religion  they  are  mostly  Vaishnavites,  and 
their  priests  are  Brahmans.  They  wear  the  sacred 
thread,  and  in  most  respects  copy  the  marriage  and 
other  customs  of  the  Brahmans."  Tlie  Razus,  Mr. 
Stuart  writes  further,!  are  "  the  most  numerous  class  of 
those  who  claim  to  be  Kshatriyas  in  North  Arcot. 
They  are  found  almost  entirely  in  the  Karvetnagar 
estate,  the  zemindar  being  the  head  of  the  caste.  As  a 
class  they  are  the  handsomest  and  best  developed  men 

•  Madras  Census  Report,  1891.        f  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 


249  RAzu 

in  the  country,  and  differ  so  much  in  feature  and  build 
from  other  Hindus  that  they  may  usually  be  distin- 
guished at  a  glance.  They  seem  to  have  entirely 
abandoned  the  military  inclinations  of  their  ancestors, 
never  enlist  in  the  native  army,  and  almost  wholly 
occupy  themselves  in  agriculture.  Their  vernacular  is 
Telugu,  since  they  are  immigrants  from  the  Northern 
Circars,  from  whence  most  of  them  followed  the  ances- 
tors of  the  Karvetnagar  zamindar  within  the  last  two 
centuries.  In  religion  they  are  mostly  Vaishnavites, 
though  a  few  follow  Siva,  and  the  worship  of  village 
deities  forms  a  part  of  the  belief  of  all.  Their  peculiar 
goddess  is  called  Nimishamba,  who  would  seem  to 
represent  Parvati.  She  is  so  called  because  in  an  instant 
(nimisham)  she  once  appeared  at  the  prayer  of  certain 
rishis,  and  destroyed  some  rakshasas  or  giants  who 
were  persecuting  them.  Claiming  to  be  Kshatriyas, 
the  Razus  of  course  assume  the  sacred  thread,  and  are 
very  proud  and  particular  in  their  conduct,  though  flesh- 
eating  is  allowed.  In  all  the  more  well-to-do  families 
the  females  are  kept  in  strict  seclusion." 

In  the  Vizagapatam  district  Razus  are  recognised 
as  belonging  to  two  classes,  called  Konda  (hill)  and 
Bhu  (plains)  Razu.  The  former  are  further  divided 
into  the  following  sections,  to  which  various  zamin- 
dars  belong : — Konda.  Kodu,  Gaita,  Muka,  Yenati. 
The  Konda  Razus  are  believed  to  be  hill  chiefs,  who 
have,  in  comparatively  recent  times,  adopted  the  title 
of  Razu. 

For  the  following  note  on  the  Razus  of  the  Godavari 
district,  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  F.  R.  Hemingway. 
"  They  say  they  are  Kshatriyas,  wear  the  sacred  thread, 
have  Brahmanical  gotras,  decline  to  eat  with  other  non- 
Brahmans,  and  are  divided  into  the  three  classes,  Surya 

RAZU  250 

(sun),   Chandra  (moon),   and   Machi    (fish).     Of  these, 
the  first  claim  to  be  descended  from  the  kings  of  Oudh, 
and  to  be  of  the    same  lineage  as  Rama ;  the  second, 
from  the  kings  of  Hastinapura,  of  the  same  line  as  the 
Pandavas  ;  and  the  third,  from  Hanuman  (the  monkey 
god)  and  a  mermaid.     Their    women    observe  a   very- 
strict  rule  of  gosha,  and  this  is  said  to  be  carried  so  far 
that  a  man  may  not  see  his  younger  brother's  wife,  even 
if  she  is  living  in  the  same  house,  without  violating  the 
gosha  rule.     The  betrothal  ceremony  is  called  nirnaya 
bhojanam,   or  meal  of  settlement.     Written  contracts  of 
marriage  (subha  reka)  are  exchanged.     The  wedding  is 
performed    at   the    bride's    house.     At  the    pradanam 
ceremony,  no  bonthu  (turmeric  thread)  is  tied  round  the 
bride's  neck.     The  bridegroom    has    to  wear   a  sword 
throughout  the  marriage  ceremonies,  and  he  is  paraded 
round  the  village  with  it  before  they  begin.     The  gosha 
rule  prevents  his  womenfolk  from  attending  the  marri- 
age, and  the  bride  has  to  wear  a  veil.     The  ceremonies, 
unlike  those  of  other  castes,    are  attended  with  burnt 
offerings  of  rice,  etc.     Among  other  castes,  the  turmeric- 
dyed  thread  (kankanam),  which  is  tied  round  the  wrists 
of  the  contracting  couple,  is  of  cotton  ;  among  the  Razus 
it    is   of    wool  and    cotton.     The     Razus    are    chiefly 
employed   in  cultivation.     Some  of  them    are    said   to 
attain   no   small    proficiency   in   Telugu  and    Sanskrit 
scholarship.     Zamindars  of  this   caste   regard    Kali  as 
their  patron  deity.     The  Razus  of  Amalapuram  specially 
adore   Lakshmi.     Some  peculiarities   in  their  personal 
appearance   may  be  noted.     Their  turbans  are  made  to 
bunch  out  at  the  left  side  above  the  ear,   and  one  end 
hangs  down  behind.     They  do  not  shave  any   part  of 
their  heads,  and  allow  long  locks  to  hang  down  in  front 
of  the  ears." 

251  rAzu 

A  colony  of  Razus  is  settled  at,  and  around  Raja- 
palaiyam  in  the  Tinnevelly  district.  They  are  said  to 
have  migrated  thither  four  or  five  centuries  ago  with  a 
younger  brother  of  the  King  of  Vizianagram,  who  be- 
longed to  the  Pusapati  exogamous  sept.  To  members 
of  this  and  the  Gottimukkula  sept  special  respect  is 
paid  on  ceremonial  occasions.  The  descendants  of  the 
original  emigrants  are  said  to  have  served  under  southern 
chieftains,  especially  Tirumala  Naick.  Concerning  the 
origin  of  the  village  Rajapalaiyam  the  following  legend 
is  narrated.  One  Chinna  Raju,  a  lineal  descendant  of 
the  Kings  of  Vizianagram,  settled  there  with  others  of 
his  caste,  and  went  out  hunting  with  a  pack  of  hounds. 
When  they  reached  the  neighbouring  hill  Sanjivi- 
parvatham,  they  felt  thirsty,  but  could  find  no  water. 
They  accordingly  prayed  to  Krishna,  who  at  once 
created  a  spring  on  the  top  of  the  hill.  After  quenching 
their  thirst  thereat,  they  proceeded  westward  to  the 
valley,  and  the  god  informed  them  that  there  was  water 
there,  with  which  they  might  again  quench  their  thirst, 
and  that  their  dogs  would  there  be  attacked  by  hares. 
At  this  spot,  which  they  were  to  consider  sacred  ground, 
they  were  to  settle  down.  The  present  tank  to  the  west- 
ward of  Rajapalaiyam,  and  the  chavadi  (caste  meeting- 
place)  belonging  to  the  Pusapatis  are  said  to  indicate 
the  spot  where  they  originally  settled. 

The  Rajapalaiyam  Razus  have  four  gotras,  named 
after  Rishis,  i.e.,  Dhananjaya,  Kasyapa,  Kaundinya  and 
Vasishta,  which  are  each  sub-divided  into  a  number 
of  exogamous  septs,  named  after  villages,  etc.  They 
are  all  Vadagalai  or  Tengalai  Vaishnavites,  but  also 
worship  Ayanar,  and  send  kavadi  (portable  canopy)  to 
Palni  in  performance  of  vows.  Their  family  priests  are 

RAZU  252 

The  betrothal  ceremony  of  the  Razus  of  Rajapalaiyam 
is  generally  carried  out  at  the  house  of  the  girl.  On  a 
raised  platform  within  a  pandal  (booth),  seven  plates 
filled  with  plantain  fruits,  betel,  turmeric,  cocoanuts, 
and  flowers  are  placed.  A  plate  containing  twenty-five 
rupees,  and  a  ravike  (female  cloth),  is  carried  by  a 
Brahman  woman,  and  set  in  front  of  the  girl.  All  the 
articles  are  then  placed  in  her  lap,  and  the  ceremony 
is  consequently  called  odi  or  madi  ninchadam  (lap- 

The  girl's  hair  is  decked  with  flowers,  and  she  is 
smeared  with  sandal  and  turmeric.  A  certain  quantity 
of  paddy  (unhusked  rice)  and  beans  of  Phaseolus  Mungo 
are  given  to  the  Brahman  woman,  a  portion  of  which  is 
set  apart  as  sacred,  some  of  the  paddy  being  added  to 
that  which  is  stored  in  the  granary.  The  remainder 
of  the  paddy  is  husked  in  a  corner  of  the  pandal,  and 
the  beans  are  ground  in  a  mill.  On  the  marriage 
morning,  the  bride's  party,  accompanied  by  musicians, 
carry  to  the  house  of  the  bridegroom  a  number  of 
baskets  containing  cocoanuts,  plantains,  betel,  and  a 
turban.  The  bridegroom  goes  with  a  purohit  (priest), 
and  men  and  women  of  his  caste,  to  a  well,  close  to 
which  are  placed  some  milk  and  the  nose-screw  of  a 
woman  closely  related  to  him.  All  the  women  sprinkle 
some  of  the  milk  over  his  head,  and  some  of  them  draw 
water  from  the  well.  The  bridegroom  bathes,  and 
dresses  up.  Just  before  their  departure  from  the  well, 
rice  which  has  been  dipped  therein  is  distributed  among 
the  women.  At  the  bridegroom's  house  the  milk-post, 
usually  made  from  a  branch  of  the  vekkali  {Anogeissus 
latifolia)  tree,  is  tied  to  a  pillar  supporting  the  roof 
of  the  marriage  dais.  To  the  top  of  the  milk-post  a 
cross-bar  is  fixed,  to  one  arm  of  which  a  cloth  bundle 

253  RAZU 

containing  a  cocoanut,  betel  and  turmeric,  is  tied.     The 
post  is  surmounted  by  leafy  mango  twigs.     Just  before 
the  milk-post  is  set  up,  cocoanuts  are  offered  to  it,  and 
a  pearl  and  piece  of  coral  are  placed  in  a  hole  scooped 
out  at  its  lower  end.     The  bundle  becomes  the  perquisite 
of  the  carpenter  who  has  made  the  post.     Only  Brah- 
mans,   Razus  and  the  barber  musicians  are  allowed  to 
sit  on  the  dais.     After  the  distribution  of  betel,  the  bride- 
groom and  his  party  proceed  to  the  house  of  the  bride, 
where,  in  like  manner,  the  milk-post  is  set  up.     They 
then  return  to  his  house,  and  the  bridegroom  has  his  face 
and  head  shaved,  and  nails  pared  by  a  barber,  who  receives 
as  his  fee  two  annas  and  the  clothes  which  the  bridegroom 
is  wearing.     After  a  bath,  the  bridegroom  is  conducted 
to  the  chavadi,  where  a  gaudy  turban  is  put  on  his  head, 
and  he  is  decorated  with  jewels  and  garlands.     In  the 
course  of  the  morning,  the  purohit,  holding  the   right 
little  finger  of  the  bridegroom,  conducts  him  to  the  dais, 
close   to   which    rice,    rice    stained   yellow,    rice   husk, 
jaggery  (crude  sugar),  wheat  bran,  and  cotton  seed  are 
placed.     The    Brahmanical    rites   of  punyahavachanam 
(purification),  jatakarma  (birth  ceremony),  namakaranam 
(name  ceremony),  chaulam  (tonsure),  and  upanayanam 
(thread  ceremony)  are  performed.     But,  instead  of  Vedic 
chants,  the  purohit  recites  slokas  specially  prepared  for 
non- Brahman  castes.     At  the  conclusion  of  these  rites, 
the  bridegroom  goes  into  the  house,  and  eats  a  small 
portion  of  sweet   cakes  and   other   articles,    of  which 
the  remainder  is  finished  off  by  boys  and  girls.     This 
ceremony   is   called    pubanthi.     The    Kasiyatra   (mock 
flight  to  Benares)  or  Snathakavritham  is  then  performed. 
Towards  evening  the  bridegroom,  seated  in  a  palanquin, 
goes  to  the  bride's  house,  taking  with  him  a  tray  con- 
taining an  expensive  woman's  cloth,  the  tali  tied  to 

RAZU  254 

gold  thread,  and  a  pair  of  gold  bracelets.  When  they 
reach  the  house,  the  women  who  have  accompanied 
the  bridegroom  throw  paddy  over  those  who  have 
collected  at  the  entrance  thereto,  by  whom  the  compli- 
ment is  returned.  The  bridegroom  takes  his  seat  on  the 
dais,  and  the  bride  is  conducted  thither  by  her  brothers. 
A  wide-meshed  green  curtain  is  thrown  over  her 
shoulders,  and  her  hands  are  pressed  over  her  eyes,  and 
held  there  by  one  of  her  brothers,  so  that  she  cannot  see. 
Generally  two  brothers  sit  by  her  side,  and,  when  one  is 
tired,  the  other  relieves  him.  The  purohit  invests  the 
bridegroom  with  a  second  thread  as  a  sign  of  marriage. 
Damp  rice  is  scattered  from  a  basket  all  round  the 
contracting  couple,  and  the  tali,  after  it  has  been  blessed 
by  Brahmans,  is  tied  round  the  neck  of  the  bride  by  the 
bridegroom  and  her  brothers.  At  the  moment  when  the 
tali  is  tied,  the  bride's  hands  are  removed  from  her  face, 
and  she  is  permitted  to  see  her  husband.  The  pair  then 
go  round  the  dais,  and  the  bride  places  her  right  foot 
thrice  on  a  grindstone.  Their  little  fingers  are  linked, 
and  their  cloths  tied  together.  Thus  united,  they  are 
conducted  to  a  room,  in  which  fifty  pots,  painted  white 
and  with  various  designs  on  them,  are  arranged  in  rows. 
In  front  of  them,  two  pots,  filled  with  water,  are  placed, 
and,  in  front  of  the  two  pots,  seven  lamps.  Round  the 
necks  of  these  pots,  bits  of  turmeric  are  tied.  They  are 
called  avareti  kundalu  or  avireni  kundalu,  and  are  made 
to  represent  minor  deities.  The  pots  are  worshipped 
by  the  bridal  couple,  and  betel  is  distributed  among  the 
Brahmans  and  Razus,  of  whom  members  of  the  Pusapati 
and  Gottimukkala  septs  take  precedence  over  the  others. 
On  the  following  day,  the  purohit  teaches  the  sandya- 
vandhanam  (morning  and  evening  ablutions),  which  is, 
however,  quite  different  from  the  Brahmanical  rite.     On 

255  RAZU 

the  morning  of  the  third  or  nagavali  day,  a  quantity  of 
castor-oil  seed  is  sent  by  the  bride's  people  to  the  bride- 
groom's house,  and  returned.  The  bride  and  bridegroom 
go,  in  a  closed  and  open  palanquin,  respectively,  to  the 
house  of  the  former.  They  take  their  seats  on  the  dais, 
and  the  bride  is  once  more  blindfolded.  In  front  of  them, 
five  pots  filled  with  water  are  arranged  in  the  form 
of  a  quincunx.  Lighted  lamps  are  placed  by  the  side 
of  each  of  the  corner  pots.  On  the  lids  of  the  pots  five 
cocoanuts,  plantains,  pieces  of  turmeric,  and  betel  are 
arranged,  and  yellow  thread  is  wound  seven  times  round 
the  corner  pots.  The  pots  are  then  worshipped,  and  the 
bridegroom  places  on  the  neck  of  the  bride  a  black  bead 
necklace,  which  is  tied  by  the  Brahman  woman.  In 
front  of  the  bridegroom  some  salt,  and  in  front  of  the 
bride  some  paddy  is  heaped  up.  An  altercation  arises 
between  the  bridegroom  and  the  brother  of  the  bride  as 
to  the  relative  values  of  the  two  heaps,  and  it  is  finally 
decided  that  they  are  of  equal  value.  The  bridal  pair 
then  enter  the  room,  in  which  the  avireni  pots  are  kept, 
and  throw  their  rings  into  one  of  the  pots  which  is  full 
of  water.  The  bridegroom  has  to  pick  out  therefrom, 
at  three  dips,  his  own  ring,  and  his  brother-in-law  that 
of  the  bride.  The  purohit  sprinkles  water  over  the 
heads  of  the  pair,  and  their  wrist-threads  (kankanam) 
are  removed.  They  then  sit  in  a  swing  on  the  pandal 
for  a  short  time,  and  the  ceremonies  conclude  with  the 
customary  waving  of  coloured  water  (arati)  and  distri- 
bution of  betel.  During  the  marriage  ceremony,  Razu 
women  are  not  allowed  to  sit  in  the  pandal.  The  wives 
of  the  more  well-to-do  members  of  the  community 
remain  gosha  within  their  houses,  and,  strictly  speaking, 
a  woman  should  not  see  her  husband  during  the  daytime. 
Many  of  the  women,  however,  go  freely  about  the  town 

REDDI  256 

during  the  day,  and  go  to  the   wells  to  fetch  water  for 
domestic  purposes. 

The  Razus  of  Rajapalaiyam  have  Razu  as  the 
agnomen,  and,  like  other  Telugu  classes,  take  the  gotra 
for  the  first  name,  e.g.,  Yaraguntala  Mudduswami  Razu, 
Gottimukkala  Krishna  Razu.  The  women  adhere  with 
tenacity  to  the  old  forms  of  Telugu  jewelry.  The  Razus, 
in  some  villages,  seem  to  object  to  the  construction  of  a 
pial  in  front  of  their  houses.  The  pial,  or  raised  plat- 
form, is  the  lounging  place  by  day,  where  visitors  are 
received.  The  Razus,  as  has  been  already  stated,  claim 
to  be  Kshatriyas,  so  other  castes  should  not  sit  in  their 
presence.  If  pials  were  constructed,  such  people  might 
sit  thereon,  and  so  commit  a  breach  of  etiquette. 

In  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  Rajamakan  is 
given  as  a  Tamil  synonym  for  Razu,  and  Razu  is  re- 
turned as  a  title  of  the  Bagata  fishermen  of  Vizagapatam. 
Razu  is,  further,  a  general  name  of  the  Bhatrazus. 

Reddi. — See  Kapu. 

Reddi  Bhumi  (Reddi  earth). — A  sub-division  of 
Mala,  Mangala,  and  Tsakala. 

Rela  (fig.  Ficus,  sp.). — A  gotra  of  Medara. 

Relli.— 5"^^  Haddi. 

Rendeddu.— A  sub-division  of  Ganigas  or  Gandlas, 
who  use  two  bullocks  for  their  oil-pressing  mill. 

Rokkam  (ready  money). — An  exogamous  sept  of 

Rolan.— Rolan,  or  Roli  Cheruman,  is  a  sub-division 
of  Cheruman. 

Rona.— The  Ronas  are  a  class  of  Oriya-speaking 
hill  cultivators,  who  are  said*  to  "'  hold  a  position  superior 
in  the  social  scale  to  the  Parjas  (Porojas),  from  whom,  by 

*  Madras  Census  Report,  1871. 

257  RONA 

compulsion  and  cajolery,  they  have  gotten  unto  them- 
selves estates.  They  are  not  of  very  long  standing  (in 
Jeypore).  Every  Parja  village  head  is  still  able  to  point 
out  the  fields  that  have  been  taken  from  him  to  form  the 
Rona  hamlet ;  and,  if  he  is  in  antagonism  with  a  neigh- 
bouring Parja  village  on  the  subject  of  boundaries,  he 
will  include  the  fields  occupied  by  the  Rona  as  belonging 
de  jure  to  his  demesne."  In  the  Madras  Census  Report, 
1 89 1,  it  is  noted  that  "the  Ronas  are  supposed  to  be  the 
descendants  of  Ranjit,  the  great  warrior  of  Orissa.  In 
social  status  they  are  said  to  be  a  little  inferior  to  the 
so-called  Kshatriyas.  Some  of  them  serve  as  armed 
retainers  and  soldiers  of  the  native  chiefs,  and  some  arc 
engaged  in  trade  and  cultivation. 

For  the  following  note  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  C. 
Hayavadana  Rao.  The  word  rona  means  battle. 
According  to  a  tradition  current  among  the  Ronas,  their 
ancestors,  who  were  seven  brothers,  came  many  gener- 
ations ago  to  Nundapur,  the  former  capital  of  the  Rajas 
of  Jeypore,  and  made  their  first  settlement  in  Borra. 

The  caste  is  divided  into  four  endogamous  divisions, 
viz. : — 

(i)  Rona  Paiko. 

(2)  Odiya  Paiko,  said  to  rank  a  little  higher  than 
the  preceding. 

(3)  Kottiya  Paiko,  the  descendants  of  Rona  Paikos 
and  women  of  hill  tribes. 

(4)  Pattiya  Paik,  the  descendants  of  Kottiya  Paikos 
and  women  of  hill  tribes. 

As  examples  of  septs  among  the  Ronas,  the  following 
may  be  cited  : — Kora  (sun),  Bhag  (tiger),  Nag  (cobra), 
Khinbudi  (bear),  and  Matsya  (fish). 

When  a  girl  reaches  puberty,  she  is  placed  apart  in  a 
portion  of  the  house  where  she  cannot  be  seen  by  males, 

RONA  258 

even  of  the  household,  and  sits  in  a  space  enclosed  by- 
seven  arrows  connected  together  by  a  thread.  On  the 
seventh  day  she  bathes,  and  is  presented  with  a  new 
cloth.  It  is  customary  for  a  man  to  marry  his  paternal 
uncle's  daughter.  At  the  time  of  marriage,  the  bride- 
groom's party  repair  to  the  house  of  the  bride  with  a 
sheep,  goat,  rice,  and  a  female  cloth  with  a  rupee  placed 
on  it,  and  four  quarter-anna  bits  inserted  within  its  fold. 
The  cloth  and  money  are  taken  by  the  bride's  mother, 
and  the  animals  and  rice  are  used  for  a  feast.  On 
the  following  day,  the  bride  goes  to  the  house  of  the 
bridegroom,  in  front  of  which  a  pandal  (booth),  made  out 
of  nine  poles  of  the  neredu  tree  {Eugenia  Jamboland) 
has  been  set  up.  At  the  auspicious  hour,  which  has 
been  fixed  by  the  Desari  who  officiates,  in  the  absence 
of  a  Brahman,  at  the  marriage  rites,  the  bride  and 
bridegroom  take  their  seats  in  the  pandal  with  a  curtain 
between  them.  The  Desari  joins  their  hands  together, 
and  ties  to  the  ends  of  their  cloths  a  new  cloth  to  which 
a  quarter-anna  piece  is  attached,  betel  leaves  and  nuts, 
and  seven  grains  of  rice.  The  curtain  is  then  removed, 
and  the  pair  enter  the  house.  The  knotted  new  cloth 
is  removed,  and  kept  in  the  house  during  the  next  two 
days,  being  untied  and  re-tied  every  morning.  On  the 
third  day,  the  couple  again  come  within  the  pandal, 
and  the  new  cloth  is  again  tied  to  them.  They  are 
bathed  together  in  turmeric  water,  and  the  cloth  is  then 
untied  for  the  last  time.  The  rice  is  examined  to  see  if 
it  is  in  a  good  state  of  preservation,  and  its  condition  is 
regarded  as  an  omen  for  good  or  evil.  The  remarriage 
of  widows  is  permitted,  and  a  younger  brother  usually 
marries  the  widow  of  his  elder  brother. 

There  is  for  all  the  Ronas  a  headman  of  their  caste, 
called    Bhatho    Nayako,    at    Nundapur,    who    decides 


offences,  such  as  eating  in  the  house  of  a  man  of  inferior 
caste,  and  performs  the  ceremonial  cleansing  of  a  man 
who  has  been  beaten  with  a  shoe.  Divorce  and  civil 
suits  are  settled  by  a  caste  council. 

The  Ronas  worship  the  deity  Takurani.  They 
wear  the  sacred  thread,  and  are  said  to  have  bought  the 
right  to  do  so  from  a  former  Raja  of  Jeypore.  They 
also  wear  a  necklace  of  tulsi  [Ocimuni  sanctum)  beads. 
The  necklace  is  first  tied  on  by  Oriya  Brahmans  from 
Orissa,  or  Vaishnava  Brahmans  from  Srikurmam  in 
Ganjam,  who  pay  periodic  visits  to  the  community,  and 
receive  presents  of  money  and  food.  Rona  Paikos  will 
eat  at  the  hands  of  Brahmans  only,  whereas  Puttiya 
Paikos  will  eat  in  the  houses  of  Koronos,  Malis, 
Kummaras,  and  Gaudos.  All  eat  animal  food,  beef  and 
pork  excepted. 

Some  Ronas  are  still  the  armed  retainers  of  the 
Jeypore  Rajas,  and  their  forefathers  were  versed  in  the 
use  of  the  matchlock.  Some  Ronas  at  the  present  day 
use  bows  and  arrows.     The  caste  title  is  Nayako. 

Ronguni.— The  Rongunis  are  Oriya  dyers  and 
weavers.  The  caste  name  is  derived  from  rangu,  dye. 
A  noticeable  fact  is  that  they  do  not  eat  flesh  of  any 
kind,  but  are  vegetarians,  pure  and  simple.  They  have 
various  titles,  e.g.,  Behara,  Daso,  Prushti,  and  Sahu,  of 
which  some  practically  constitute  exogamous  septs. 

Rottala  (bread). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Boya. 

Rowthan.— 6"^^  Ravutan. 

Rudra.— One  of  the  various  names  of  Siva.  A 
sub-division  of  Palli. 

Rudrakshala  (the  drupe  oi Elceocarptts  Ganitrus). — 

An  exogamous  sept  of  Kama  Sales.      The  drupes  are 

polished,  and   worn  as   a  rosary  or  necklet  by  Saivite 

Brahmans,  Pandarams,  Nattukottai  Chettis,  and  others. 

V1-17  B 

RUNZU  260 

They  are  supposed  to  be  the  tears  of  ecstasy  which  Siva 
(Rudra)  once  shed,  and  are  consequently  sacred  to  him. 
They  have  a  number  of  lobes  (or  faces),  varying  from 
one  to  six,  divided  externally  by  deep  furrows.  Those 
with  five  lobes  are  the  most  common,  but  those  with 
one  (eka  mukha)  or  six  (shan  mukha)  are  very  rare,  and 
have  been  known  to  be  sold  for  a  thousand  rupees. 
One  form  of  the  drupe  is  called  Gauri  shanka,  and  is 
worn  in  a  golden  receptacle  by  Dikshitar  Brahmans 
at  Chidambaram,  and  by  some  Pandarams  who  are 
managers  of  matams  (religious  institutions).  The  plate 
represents  a  Telugu  Saivite  Vaidiki  Brahman  clad  in  a 
coat  of  rudraksha  beads,  wearing  a  head-dress  of  the 
same,  and  holding  in  his  hand  wooden  castanets,  which 
are  played  as  an  accompaniment  to  his  songs.  Until 
he  became  too  old  to  bear  the  weight,  he  wore  also  a 
loin-cloth  made  of  these  beads. 

Runzu.— Runzu,  Runza,  or  Runja  is  the  name  of  a 
class  of  Telugu  mendicants,  who  beat  a  drum  called 
runjalu,  and  beg  only  from  Kamsalas  {q.v.). 

Sachchari.— A  synonym  of  Relli.  Another  form  of 
the  word  Chachchadi. 

Sadaru.— A  sub-division  of  Lingayats,  found  mainly 
in  the  Bellary  and  Anantapur  districts,  where  they  are 
largely  engaged  in  cultivation.  Some  Bedars  or  Boyas, 
who  live  amidst  these  Lingayats,  call  themselves  Sadaru. 
It  is  noted  in  the  Mysore  Census  Reports  that  the  Sadas 
are  "cultivators  and  traders  in  grain.  A  section  of  these 
Sadas  has  embraced  Lingayatism,  while  the  others  are 
still  within  the  pale  of  Hinduism," 



Saddikudu  (cold  rice  or  food). — An  exogamous  sept 
of  Golla. 

Sadhana  Surulu.— Sadhanasura  is  recorded,  in 
the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  as  a  synonym  of 
Samayamuvadu.  In  a  note  on  this  class  of  itinerant 
mendicants,  Mr.  C.  Hayavadana  Rao  states  that,  unlike 
the  Samayamuvaru,  they  are  attached  only  to  the  Padma 
Sale  section  of  the  Sale  caste.  "  They  say,"  he  writes, 
"that  their  name  is  an  abbreviated  form  of  Renuka 
Sakthini  Sadhinchinavaru,  i.e.^  those  who  conquered 
Renuka  Sakthi.  According  to  tradition,  Renuka  was 
the  mother  of  Parasurama,  one  of  the  avatars  of  Vishnu, 
and  is  identified  with  the  goddess  Yellamma,  whom 
the  Padma  Sales  revere.  The  Sadhana  Surulu  are 
her  votaries.  Ages  ago,  it  is  said,  they  prayed  to 
her  on  behalf  of  the  Padma  Sales,  and  made  her  grant 
boons  to  them.  Since  that  time  they  have  been 
treated  with  marked  respect  by  the  Padma  Sales, 
who  pay  them  annually  four  annas,  and  see  to  their 

Sadhu  (meek  or  quiet). — A  sub-division  or  exoga- 
mous sept  of  Ganiga  and  Padma  Sale.  The  equivalent 
Sadhumatam  has  been  recorded,  at  times  of  census,  by 
Janappans.  The  name  Sadhu  is  applied  to  ascetics  or 

Sagarakula.^A  synonym  of  the  Upparas,  who 
claim  descent  from  a  king  Sagara  Chakravarthi  of  the 

Sahavasi.— The  Sahavasis  are  described,  in  the 
Mysore  Census  Report,  1891,  as  "immigrants  like  the 
Chitpavanas.  Sahavasi  means  co-tenant  or  associate, 
and  the  name  is  said  to  have  been  earned  by  the  com- 
munity in  the  following  manner.  In  remote  times  a 
certain  Brahman  came  upon  hidden  treasure,  but,  to  his 

SAHU  262 

amazement,  the  contents  appeared  in  his  eye  to  be  all 
live  scorpions.  Out  of  curiosity,  he  hung  one  of  them 
outside  his  house.  A  little  while  after,  a  woman  of 
inferior  caste,  who  was  passing  by  the  house,  noticed  it 
to  be  gold,  and,  upon  her  questioning  him  about  it,  the 
Brahman  espoused  her,  and  by  her  means  was  able  to 
enjoy  the  treasure.  He  gave  a  feast  in  honour  of  his 
acquisition  of  wealth.  He  was  subsequently  outcasted 
for  his  mesalliance  with  the  low  caste  female,  while 
those  that  ate  with  him  were  put  under  a  ban,  and  thus 
acquired  the  nickname." 

Sahu.— A  title  of  Bolasis,  Godiyas,  and  other  Oriya 

Saindla  (belonging  to  the  death-house). — A  sub- 
division of  Mala. 

Sajjana  (good  men). — A  synonym  of  Lingayat 

Sajje  (millet :  Setaria  italicd). — An  exogamous  sept 
of  Devanga. 

Sakala.— 5"^^  Tsakala. 

Sakkereya. — Some  Upparas  style  themselves  Mel 
(western)  Sakkereya-varu.  Their  explanation  is  that 
they  used  to  work  in  salt,  which  is  more  essential  than 
sugar,  and  that  Mel  Sakkare  means  superior  sugar. 

Sakuna  Pakshi. — For  the  following  note  on  the 
Sakuna  Pakshi  (prophetic  bird)  mendicant  caste  of 
Vizagapatam,  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  C.  Hayavadana  Rao. 
The  name  of  the  caste  is  due  to  the  fact  that  the  mem- 
bers of  the  caste  wear  on  their  heads  a  plume  composed 
of  the  feathers  of  a  bird  called  palagumma,  which  is  pro- 
bably Coracias  indica,  the  Indian  roller,  or  "blue  jay" 
of  Europeans.  This  is  one  of  the  birds  called  sakuna 
pakshi,  because  they  are  supposed  to  possess  the  power 
of  foretelling  events,  and  on  their  movements  many  omens 


depend.  Concerning  the  roller,  Jerdon  writes  *  that  "  it 
is  sacred  to  Siva,  who  assumed  its  form,  and,  at  the  feast 
of  the  Dasserah  at  Nagpore,  one  or  more  used  to  be 
liberated  by  the  Rajah,  amidst  the  firing  of  cannon  and 
musketry,  at  a  grand  parade  attended  by  all  the  officers 
of  the  station.  Buchanan  Hamilton  also  states  that, 
before  the  Durga  Puja,  the  Hindus  of  Calcutta  purchase 
one  of  these  birds,  and,  at  the  time  when  they  throw  the 
image  of  Durga  into  the  river,  set  it  at  liberty.  It  is 
considered  propitious  to  see  it  on  this  day,  and  those 
who  cannot  afford  to  buy  one  discharge  their  matchlocks 
to  put  it  on  the  wing." 

According  to  their  own  account,  the  Sakuna  Pakshis 
are  Telagas  who  emigrated  to  Vizagapatam  from  Pedda- 
puram  in  the  Godavari  district. 

A  member  of  the  caste,  before  proceeding  on  a 
begging  expedition,  rises  early,  and  has  a  cold  meal. 
He  then  puts  the  Tengalai  Vaishnava  namam  mark  on 
his  forehead,  slings  on  his  left  shoulder  a  deer-skin  pouch 
for  the  reception  of  the  rice  and  other  grain  which  will 
be  given  him  as  alms,  and  takes  up  his  little  drum  (gilaka 
or  damaraka)  made  of  frog's  skin.  It  is  essential  for  a 
successful  day's  begging  that  he  should  first  visit  a  Mala 
house  or  two,  after  which  he  begs  from  other  castes,  going 
from  house  to  house. 

The  members  combine  with  begging  the  professions 
of  devil-dancer,  sorcerer,  and  quack  doctor.  Their  remedy 
for  scorpion  sting  is  well-known.  It  is  the  root  of  a 
plant  called  thella  visari  (scorpion  antidote),  which  the 
Sakuna  Pakshis  carry  about  with  them  on  their  rounds. 
The  root  should  be  collected  on  a  new-moon  day  which 
falls  on  a  Sunday.     On  that  day,  the  Sakuna  Pakshi 

Birds  of  India. 

SAlAnguicARan  264 

bathes,  cuts  off  his  loin-string,  and  goes  stark  naked  to  a 
selected  spot,  where  he  gathers  the  roots.  If  a  supply- 
thereof  is  required,  and  the  necessary  combination  of 
moon  and  day  is  not  forthcoming,  the  roots  should  be 
collected  on  a  Sunday  or  Wednesday. 

Salangukaran. — In  the  Madras  Census  Report, 
1 90 1,  Salangaikaran  is  returned  as  a  synonym  of  Karai- 
yan  or  Sembadavan  fishermen.  The  word  salangu  or 
slangu  is  used  for  pearl  fisheries,  and  Salangukaran  is, 
I  imagine,  a  name  applied  to  pearl  divers. 

Salapu.— The  Salapus  are  a  small  caste  of  Telugu 
weavers  in  Vizagapatam,  for  the  following  note  on  whom 
I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  C.  Hayavadana  Rao.  The  name 
Salapu  seems  to  be  a  corruption  of  Saluppan,  a  caste 
which  formerly  engaged  in  the  manufacture  of  gunny- 
bags  and  coarse  cloths.  The  Salapus  at  the  present  day 
make  such  cloths,  commonly  called  gamanchalu.  Like 
some  other  weaving  castes,  they  claim  descent  from 
Markandeya  rishi,  who  was  remarkable  for  his  austerities 
and  great  age,  and  is  also  known  as  Dirghayus.  The 
Salapus  will  not  eat,  or  intermarry  with  Sales.  The  caste 
is  governed  by  a  headman  called  Senapati.  He  decides 
disputes,  and,  on  occasions  of  marriage,  receives  the  first 
share  of  betel  and  sandal,  and  is  the  first  to  touch  the 
sathamanam  (marriage  badge)  when  it  is  passed  round 
to  be  blessed  by  those  assembled.  He  is,  at  marriages, 
further  presented  with  a  rupee.  At  caste  feasts,  it  is 
his  privilege  to  partake  of  food  first. 

Like  other  Telugu  castes,  the  Salapus  have  inti- 
perulu,  or  exogamous  septs.  Girls  are  generally  married 
before  puberty.  The  custom  of  menarikam,  by  which  a 
man  should  marry  his  maternal  uncle's  daughter,  is  in 
force.  The  turmeric  ceremony  takes  place  some  months 
before   marriage.     Some   male  and  female  relations  of 

265  SALE 

the  future  bridegroom  repair  to  the  house  of  the  girl, 
taking  with  them  a  few  rupees  as  the  bride-price  (voli). 
The  girl  bathes,  and  daubs  herself  with  turmeric  paste. 
A  solid  silver  bangle  is  then  put  on  her  right  wrist. 
The  remarriage  of  widows  and  divorce  are  permitted. 

The  Salapus  are  divided  into  Lingavantas  and 
Vaishnavas,  who  intermarry.  The  former  bury  their 
dead  in  a  sitting  posture,  and  the  latter  practice  crema- 
tion. Jangams  officiate  for  the  Lingavantas,  and  Satanis 
for  Vaishnavas.  Both  sections  observe  the  chinna 
(little)  and  pedda  rozu  (big  day)  death  ceremonies. 

The  caste  title  is  generally  Ayya. 

Salapu. — A  form  of  Sarapu,  an  occupational  term 
for  those  who  deal  in  coins,  jewelry,  coral,  etc. 

Sale.— The  Sales  are  the  great  weaver  class  among 
the  Telugus,  for  the  following  note  on  whom  I  am 
indebted  to  Mr.  C.  Hayavadana  Rao. 

The  name  is  derived  from  Sanskrit,  Salika,  a  weaver. 
The  Sales  call  themselves  Senapati  (commander-in- 
chief),  and  this  is  further  the  title  of  the  caste  headman. 
They  are  divided  into  two  main  endogamous  sections, 
Padma  or  lotus,  and  Pattu  or  silk.  Between  them  there 
are  three  well-marked  points  of  difference,  viz.,  (i)  the 
Pattu  Sales  wear  the  sacred  thread,  whereas  the  Padma 
Sales  do  not ;  the  Pattu  Sales  do  not  take  food  or  water 
at  the  hands  of  any  except  Brahmans,  whereas  the 
Padma  Sales  will  eat  in  Kapu,  Golla,  Telaga,  Gavara, 
etc.,  houses ;  (3)  the  Pattu  Sales  weave  superfine  cloths, 
and,  in  some  places,  work  in  silk,  whereas  Padma  Sales 
weave  only  coarse  cloths.  Each  section  is  divided  into 
a  number  of  exogamous  septs  or  intiperulu.  Both  speak 
Telugu,  and  are  divided  into  Vaishnavites  and  Saivites. 
These  religious  distinctions  are  no  bar  to  intermarriage 
and  interdining. 

SALE  266 

It  is  recorded,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the  Vizagapatam 
district    (1907),    that    "  on    the    plains,    cotton     cloths 
are    woven    in  hundreds    of   villages    by  Sales,   Padma 
Sales,  Pattu  Sales,  Devangas,  and  Salapus.     The  ryots 
often  spin  their  own  cotton  into  thread,  and  then  hand 
it  over  to   the    weavers   to    be    made  into    cloths,    but 
large  quantities  of  machine-made  yarn    are   used.     In 
the  south,  the  chief  weaving  centres    are     Nakkapalli 
and     Payakaraopeta    in    Sarvasiddhi    taluk,    the    Pattu 
Sales   in   the  latter   of  which  turn  out    fabrics   of  fine 
thread,  enriched  with  much  gold  and  silver  '  lace,'  which 
are    in    great   demand    in   the   Godavari   and    Ganjam 
districts.      At   Razam,  coloured  cloths  for  women  are 
the  chief  product,  and  in  the  country  round  this  place 
the  white  garments  so  universal  everywhere  give  place 
to   coloured   dress.     The   cloths   are    sold  locally,   and 
also  sent  in  large  quantities  to  Berhampur,  Cuttack,  and 
even  Calcutta.     Most  of  the  weaving  is  in  the  hands  of 
Devangas,   but  the  dyeing  of  the  thread  is  done  with 
imported  aniline  and  alizarine  colours  by  the   Balijas  of 
Sigadam  in  Chipurupalle  taluk  and  Balijapeta  in  Bobbili. 
In  Siripuram  and  Ponduru,  the  Pattu  Sales  make  deli- 
cate   fabrics  from    especially    fine    thread,  called    Pattu 
Sale  nulu,  or  silk-weaver's  thread,  which  the  women  of 
their   caste    spin    for   them,    and    which    is   as   fine   as 
imported  1508.     These  are  much  valued  by  well-to-do 
natives  for  their  softness  and  durability.     The  weaving 
industry  is  on  the  decline  throughout  the  district,  except 
perhaps  in  Razam,   and  the  weaver  castes  are  taking 
to  other  means  of  livelihood.      Round  Chipurupalle,  for 
example,  the  Pattu  Sales  have  become  experts  in  tobacco- 
curing,  and  have  made  such  profits  that  they  are  able 
to  monopolise  much  of  the  trade  and  money-lending  of 
the  locality." 

26;  SALE 

Concerning  the  origin  of  the  Sale  caste,  it  is  stated, 
in  the  Andhrapada  Parijatamu,  that  it  is  the  result  of 
an  union  between  a  Kamsala  man  and  a  potter 
woman.  According  to  a  current  legend,  the  celestials 
(devatas),  being  desirous  of  securing  clothing  for  them- 
selves and  their  dependents,  asked  Markandeya  Rishi 
to  supply  them  with  it.  He  went  to  Vishnu,  and 
prayed  to  him.  The  god  directed  him  to  make  a 
sacrificial  offering  to  Indra,  the  celestial  king.  Mar- 
kandeya accordingly  performed  a  great  sacrifice,  and 
from  the  fire  issued  Bhavana  Rishi,  with  a  ball  of 
thread  in  his  hands,  which  he  had  manufactured,  under 
Vishnu's  direction,  from  the  fibre  of  the  lotus  which 
sprang  from  the  god's  navel.  With  this  ball  of  thread 
he  proceeded  to  make  cloths  for  the  celestials.  He 
subsequently  married  Bhadravathi,  the  daughter  of 
Surya  (the  sun),  who  bore  him  a  hundred  and  one  sons, 
of  whom  a  hundred  became  the  ancestors  of  the  Padma 
Sales,  while  the  remaining  man  was  the  ancestor  of  the 
Pattu  Sales. 

The  caste  worships  Bhavana  Rishi.  At  the  close 
of  the  year,  the  caste  occupation  is  stopped  before  the 
Sankramanam  for  ten  days.  Before  they  start  work  again, 
the  Pattu  Sales  meet  at  an  appointed  spot,  where  they 
burn  camphor,  and  wave  it  before  a  ball  of  thread,  which 
represents  Bhavana  Rishi.  A  more  elaborate  rite  is  per- 
formed by  the  Padma  Sales.  They  set  apart  a  special 
day  for  the  worship  of  the  deified  ancestor,  and  hold  a 
caste  feast.  A  special  booth  is  erected,  in  which  a 
ball  of  thread  is  placed.  A  caste-man  acts  as  pujari 
(priest),  and  fruits,  flowers,  camphor,  etc.,  are  offered  to 
the  thread. 

The  Telugu  Padma  Sales,  and  Marathi-speaking 
Sukun  and  Suka  Sales,  are,  as  will  be  seen  from  the 











sal£  268 

following  table,   short    of  stature,   with    high   cephalic 
index  : — 

Padma  Sale 
Suka  Sale 
Sukun  Sale 

The  Padma  and  Kama  Sales  are  dealt  with  in  special 

Writing  in  the  eighteenth  century,  Sonnerat  remarks 
that  the  weaver  fixes  his  loom  under  a  tree  before  his 
house  in  the  morning,  and  at  night  takes  it  home.  And 
this  observation  holds  good  at  the  present  day.  Weaving 
operations,  as  they  may  be  seen  going  on  at  weaving 
centres  in  many  parts  of  Southern  India,  are  thus 
described  by  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart.*  "The  process  of 
weaving  is  very  simple.  The  thread  is  first  turned  off 
upon  a  hand-spindle,  and  then  the  warp  is  formed. 
Bamboo  sticks,  120  in  number,  are  fixed  upright  in  the 
ground,  generally  in  the  shade  of  a  tope  or  grove,  at  a 
distance  of  a  cubit  from  one  another,  and  ten  women  or 
children,  carrying  ratnams  (spindles)  in  their  hands,  walk 
up  and  down  this  line,  one  behind  the  other,  intertwining 
the  thread  between  the  bamboos,  until  1,920  threads  of 
various  colours,  according  to  the  pattern  desired,  are 
thus  arranged.  For  this  work  each  gets  half  an  anna — 
a  small  renumeration  for  walking  four  miles.  To  form 
a  warp  sufficient  for  eight  women's  cloths,  forty  miles 
have  thus  to  be  traversed.  In  weaving  silk  cloths  or  the 
finer  fabrics,  the  length  of  the  warp  is  less  than  sixty 
yards.  As  soon  as  the  threads  have  been  arranged,  the 
bamboos  are  plucked  up,  and  rolled  together  with  the 

♦  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 

269  SALE 

threads  upon  them.  Trestles  are  then  set  out  in  the 
tope,  and  upon  them  the  warp  with  the  bamboos  is 
stretched  horizontally,  and  sized  by  means  of  large  long 
brushes  with  ragi  starch,  and  carried  along  by  two  men. 
This  having  dried,  the  whole  is  rolled  up,  and  placed  in 
the  loom  in  the  weaver's  house.  The  weaving  room  is 
a  long,  narrow,  dark  chamber,  lighted  by  one  small 
window  close  to  where  the  workman  sits.  The  loom  is 
constructed  on  the  simplest  principles,  and  can  be  taken 
to  pieces  in  a  few  minutes,  forming  a  light  load  for  a  man. 
The  alternate  threads  of  the  warp  are  raised  and 
depressed,  to  receive  the  woof  in  the  following  manner. 
Two  pairs  of  bamboos  are  joined  together  by  thin  twine 
loops,  and,  being  suspended  from  the  roof,  are  also 
joined  to  two  pedals  near  the  floor.  Through  the  join- 
ing loops  of  one  pair  of  bamboos  run  half  the  threads, 
and  through  those  of  the  other  run  the  other  half.  Thus, 
by  depressing  one  pedal  with  the  foot  and  raising  the 
other,  one  set  of  threads  is  depressed,  and  the  other 
raised  so  as  to  admit  of  the  woof  thread  being  shot 
across.  This  thread  is  forced  home  by  a  light  beam 
suspended  from  the  roof,  and  then,  the  position  of  the 
pedals  being  reversed,  the  woof  thread  is  shot  back  again 
between  the  reversed  threads  of  the  warp.  In  this  way 
about  three  yards  can  be  woven  in  a  day."  Further 
Mr.  J.  D.  Rees  writes  as  follows.*  "  As  you  enter  a 
weaver's  grove,  it  appears  at  first  sight  as  if  those 
occupied  in  this  industry  were  engaged  in  a  pretty  game. 
Rows  of  women  walk  up  and  down  the  shady  aisles,  each 
holding  aloft  in  the  left  hand  a  spindle,  and  in  the 
right  a  bamboo  wand,  through  a  hook  at  the  end  of 
which  the  thread  is  passed.     Alongside  are  split  bamboos 

•  Twelfth  Tour  of  Lord  Connemara,  1890. 

SALE  270 

reaching  as  high  as  their  hips,  and,  as  they  pass,  they 
unwind  the  thread  from  the  spindle  by  means  of  the 
wand,  and  pass  it  over  each  alternate  upright.  The 
threads,  thus  separated,  are  subsequently  lifted  with  their 
bamboo  uprights  from  the  ground,  and,  while  extended 
from  tree  to  tree  in  a  horizontal  position,  are  washed  with 
rice-water,  and  carefully  brushed.  The  threads  are  now 
ready  to  be  made  into  cloth,  and  the  actual  weaving  is 
carried  on  by  means  of  primitive  hand  looms  inside  the 

Weavers,  like  many  other  classes  in  Southern  India, 
are  eminently  conservative.  Even  so  trifling  an  inno- 
vation as  the  introduction  of  a  new  arrangement  for 
maintaining  tension  in  the  warp  during  the  process  of 
weaving  gave  rise  a  short  time  ago  to  a  temporary 
strike  among  the  hand-loom  weavers  at  the  Madras 
School  of  Arts. 

For  the  following  note  on  the  weaving  industry,  I  am 
indebted  to  Mr.  A.  Chatterton.  "  The  hand-weavers 
may  be  divided  into  two  great  classes — (i)  plain 
weavers,  who  weave  cloths  or  fabrics  with  a  single 
shuttle,  which  carries  the  weft  from  selvage  to  selvage  ; 
(2)  bordered  cloth  weavers,  who  weave  cloths  in  which 
the  threads  of  the  weft  of  the  portion  of  the  fabric  form- 
ing the  borders  are  distinct  from  the  threads  of  the  weft 
of  the  main  body  of  the  cloth.  To  manufacture  these 
cloths,  three  shuttles  are  employed,  and  as  yet  no 
successful  attempt  has  been  made  to  imitate  them  on  the 
power  loom.  The  bordered  cloth  weavers  do  not  suffer 
from  the  direct  competition  of  machine-made  piece- 
goods,  and  the  depression  in  their  branch  of  the  industry 
is  due  to  changes  in  the  tastes  of  the  people.*     In  the 

•  See   Thurston.     Monograph  on  the  Cotton  Industry  of  the  Madras  Presi- 
dency, 1897. 

271  SALfi 

manufacture  of  a  cloth  from  the  raw  material  there  are 
three  distinct  processes  :  spinning,  warping,  and  weaving. 
Modern  machinery  has  absolutely  and  completely  ousted 
hand-spinning  ;  the  primitive  native  methods  of  warp- 
ing have  been  to  a  large  extent  replaced  by  improved 
hand-machines,  and  power  looms  have  displaced  hand 
looms  to  some  extent ;  but  there  is  still  an  enormous 
hand-loom  industry,  some  branches  of  which  are  in  by 
no  means  an  unsatisfactory  condition.  In  our  efforts  to 
place  the  hand-weaving  industry  on  abetter  footing,  we 
are  endeavouring  to  improve  the  primitive  methods  of 
indigenous  weavers  both  in  regard  to  warping  and 
weaving.  In  respect  to  weaving  we  have  met  with 
considerable  success,  as  we  have  demonstrated  that  the 
output  of  the  fly-shuttle  loom  is  fully  double  that  of  the 
native  hand  loom,  and  it  is  in  consequence  slowly 
making  its  way  in  the  weaving  centres  of  Southern 
India.  In  respect  to  warping,  no  definite  solution  has 
yet  been  effected,  and  we  are  still  experimenting.  The 
problem  is  complicated  by  the  fact  that  the  output  of 
a  warping  mill  must  necessarily  be  sufficient  to  keep  at 
least  a  hundred  hand  looms  at  work,  and  at  the  present 
time  the  hand-weaving  industry  is  not  organised  on 
any  basis,  which  gives  promise  of  development  into 
co-operative  working  on  so  large  a  scale  as  would  give 
employment  to  this  number  of  looms.  In  Madura, 
Coimbatore,  Madras  and  Salem,  attempts  are  being  made 
to  establish  organised  hand-loom  weaving  factories,  and 
these  represent  the  direction  in  which  future  development 
must  take  place.  At  present  all  these  factories  are 
running  with  fly-shuttle  looms,  and  various  modifications 
of  the  old  types  of  hand-warping  machinery.  The  only 
experiments  in  warping  and  sizing  are  now  being 
conducted,  at  Government  expense,  in  the  Government 

SALE  272 

weaving  factory  at  Salem,  and  in  a  small  factory- 
established  privately  at  Tondiarpet  (Madras).  A  warp- 
ing machinery,  suited  to  Indian  requirements,  has  been 
specially  designed  for  us  in  England,  and  there  is  no 
doubt  but  that  it  will  provide  a  solution  to  the  warping 
question,  but  whether  it  will  be  satisfactory  or  not 
depends  upon  the  efficiency  of  hank  sizing.  The 
superiority  of  native  cloths  is  commonly  attributed  to 
the  fact  that  they  are  made  in  hand  looms,  but  in  reality 
it  is  largely  due  to  the  methods  of  sizing  employed  by 
native  weavers,  and  it  is  still  doubtful  whether  we  can 
attain  the  same  results  by  any  process  which  involves 
the  production  of  continuous  warps  of  indefinite  length. 
The  ordinary  native  warp  is  short,  and  it  is  stretched 
out  to  its  full  length  in  the  street,  and  the  size  carefully 
and  thoroughly  brushed  into  it.  The  warps  which  our 
machines  will  produce  may  be  thousands  of  yards  in 
length,  and,  if  they  are  successful,  will  almost  entirely 
do  away  with  the  enormous  waste  of  time  involved  in 
putting  new  warps  into  a  loom  at  frequent  intervals. 
That  they  will  be  successful  in  a  sense  there  is  no 
reasonable  doubt,  but  whether  the  goods  produced  in 
our  hand-weaving  factories  will  be  what  are  now  known 
as  hand-woven  goods,  or  whether  they  will  partake  more 
of  the  nature  of  the  power-loom  productions,  remains 
to  be  seen.  With  the  cheap  labour  available  in  South- 
ern India,  there  is  probably  a  future  for  hand-weaving 
factories,  but  it  will  depend  almost  entirely  upon  the 
successful  training  of  the  weavers,  and  experience 
shows  that  they  are  not  easily  amenable  to  discipline, 
and  have  very  rigid  objections  to  anything  approaching 
a  factory  system." 

In  a  speech  delivered  at  Salem  in  1906,  Sir  Arthur 
Lawley,    Governor    of  Madras,   spoke   as  follows.     "  I 

273  SALE 

know  something  of  the  prosperity  of  the  weaving  in- 
dustry in  days  gone  by,  and  I  regret  exceedingly  to 
learn  that  it  is  not  in  so  flourishing  a  condition  as  at 
one  time  it  well  claimed  to  be.  Now,  we  have  all  of 
us  heard  a  good  deal  of  Swadeshi,  and  the  Government 
is  being  constantly  urged,  from  time  to  time,  to  do 
something  to  foster  the  industries  of  this  country.  We 
made  a  beginning  here  by  setting  up  a  Weaving 
Institute.  We  believed  that  by  doing  so  we  should 
put  within  the  knowledge  of  the  weavers  of  this 
district  methods  whereby  their  output  of  cloth  would  be 
greater,  while  the  cost  was  reduced,  and  that  thus  their 
material  prosperity  would  be  considerably  advanced. 
Now  it  is  somewhat  of  a  surprise,  and  considerable 
disappointment  to  me  to  learn  that  this  effort  which 
we  have  made  is  regarded  with  suspicion,  if  not  with 
hostility.  I  am  afraid  our  motives  have  been  mis- 
understood, because  I  need  hardly  assure  you  that  the 
idea  that  the  Government  should  enter  into  competi- 
tion with  any  of  the  industries  of  the  country  never 
suggested  Itself  to  us.  We  desired  simply  and  solely 
to  infuse  some  fresh  spirit  Into  an  industry  which  was 

In  a  note  on  the  weaving  industry,  Mr.  E.  B. 
Havell  writes  thus."*^  "  The  principle  of  the  Danish 
co-operative  system  as  applied  to  dairy-farming  is  the 
combination  of  a  number  of  small  proprietors  for  send- 
ing their  products  to  a  central  factory,  in  which  each 
of  them  has  a  share  proportionate  to  the  quantity  of 
his  contributions.  In  the  management  of  the  factory, 
each  member  has  an  absolutely  equal  voice,  irrespective 
of  his  holdings.     Adapting  such  a  system  to  the  Indian 

•  East  and  West,  VI,  70,  1907. 

SALE  274 

weaving  industry,  each  weaving  community  would  have  a 
central  establishment  under  its  own  control,  which  would 
arrange  the  purchase  of  material  at  wholesale  rates, 
prepare  warps  for  the  weavers'  looms,  and  organise  the 
sale  of  the  finished  products.  The  actual  weaving  would 
be  carried  on  as  at  present  in  the  weavers'  houses  by  the 
master  weavers  and  their  apprentices.  If  a  system  of 
this  kind  would  retain  the  economic  advantages  of  the 
factory  system,  and  eliminate  its  many  evils,  it  is  obvious 
that  a  factory,  owned  and  controlled  by  the  weavers 
themselves,  and  worked  only  for  their  advantage,  is  a 
very  different  thing  to  a  factory  controlled  by  capitalists 
only  for  the  purpose  of  exploiting  the  labour  of  their 

As  bearing  on  the  general  condition  of  the  weaving 
community,  the  following  extract  from  the  Report  of  the 
Famine  in  the  Madras  Presidency,  1896-97,  may  be 
quoted.  "Among  the  people  who  felt  the  distress  at 
the  beginning  were  the  weavers.  It  is  a  well-known 
fact  that  the  people  of  the  weaver  castes,  as  well  as 
Mussalman  weavers,  are  generally  improvident,  and 
consequently  poor.  In  favourable  times,  the  weavers 
generally  earn  fair  wages.  They,  however,  spend  all  they 
earn  without  caring  to  lay  by  anything,  so  that  very  few  of 
their  caste  are  in  well-to-do  circumstances.  The  same  is 
the  case  with  the  Mussalman  weavers.  All  these  weavers 
are  entirely  in  the  hands  of  the  sowcars  (money-lenders), 
who  make  advances  to  them,  and  get  cloths  in  return. 
The  cloths  thus  obtained  by  the  sowcars  are  exported  to 
other  parts  of  the  country.  It  may  be  taken  as  a  general 
fact  that  most  of  the  professional  weavers  are  indebted 
to  the  sowcars,  and  are  bound  to  weave  for  them.  So 
long  as  the  seasons  are  favourable,  and  sowcars  get 
indents   for  cloths  from  their  customers,  they  continue 

275  SALE 

their  advances  to  their  dependent  weavers.  But  when, 
owing  to  any  cause,  the  demand  decreases,  the  sowcars 
curtail  their  advances  proportionately,  and  the  weavers 
are  at  once  put  to  difficulty.  According  to  the  fineness 
and  kind  of  fabrics  turned  out  by  the  weavers,  they  may 
be  divided  into  fine  cloth  weavers  and  silk  weavers, 
and  weavers  of  coarse  cloths.  It  is  the  coarse  cloth 
weavers  that  would  be  affected  with  the  first  appearance 
of  distress.  The  consumers  of  their  manufactures  are 
the  poorer  classes,  and,  with  the  appearance  of  scarcity 
and  high  prices,  the  demand  for  the  coarser  kinds  of 
cloths  would  cease.  Such  was  actually  the  case  at  the 
beginning  of  the  recent  distress.  The  weavers  are,  as 
a  class,  not  accustomed  to  hard  manual  labour,  nor 
are  they  able  to  work  exposed  to  heat  and  sun.  If 
such  people  are  put  on  earth-work,  they  would  certainly 
fail  to  turn  out  the  prescribed  task,  and  consequently 
earn  insufficient  wages.  They  would  thus  be,  as  it 
were,  punished  for  no  fault  of  theirs.  This  state  of 
things  would  last  at  least  for  some  time,  until  the 
weavers  got  accustomed  to  earth-work.  Again,  these 
people  have,  by  constant  work  at  their  own  craft, 
attained  to  a  certain  degree  of  skill  and  delicacy,  and, 
if  compelled  to  do  earth-work  during  the  temporary 
unfavourable  season,  they  would  certainly  lose,  to  some 
extent,  their  skill  and  delicacy  of  hand,  and  would 
become  unfit,  in  that  degree,  for  their  accustomed  work 
when  favourable  season  returns.  They  would  thus 
be  put  to  inconvenience  doubly.  During  the  first  part 
of  the  distress,  their  skill  of  hand,  and  delicacy  of 
constitution  would  stand  in  their  way,  and,  after  the 
return  of  good  season,  the  loss  of  manual  skill  and 
delicacy  would  place  them  at  a  disadvantage.  It  can 
be   easily  seen   that   giving   relief  to   the   weavers   in 

VI-18  B 

Sale  276 

their  own  calling  is  the  most  economical  form  of  relief. 
In  this  form  of  special  relief,  Government  advances 
materials  to  the  weavers  to  be  woven  into  different 
kinds  of  cloths.  Government  has  no  doubt  to  incur 
a  large  initial  expenditure  in  the  shape  of  value  of 
materials,  and  wages  for  weavers  for  making  these 
materials  into  cloths.  But  all  the  materials  are  returned 
woven  into  cloths,  so  that,  at  the  close  of  the  opera- 
tions, Government  has  a  stock  of  cloths,  which  can  be 
disposed  of  without  difficulty  on  the  return  of  favourable 
times,  and  the  cost  incurred  recovered.  In  this  way, 
Government  not  only  administers  relief  to  a  pretty  large 
section  of  its  poor  subjects,  but  keeps  up,  with  little  or 
no  cost  to  itself,  the  industrial  skill  of  this  section  of 
the  people." 

Of  proverbs  relating  to  the  weaver,  one  runs  to  the 
eftect  that,  "  if  you  want  to  narrow  the  breadth  of  a  river, 
you  should  plant  reeds  on  its  margin  ;  and,  if  you  desire 
to  destroy  the  sanitation  of  a  village,  you  should  bring 
weavers  to  it,  and  settle  them  there."  When  the  dyes 
have  to  be  fixed,  and  the  dyed  twist  has  to  be  washed, 
the  weavers  generally  resort  to  running  water,  and 
pollute  it.  The  several  processes  of  twisting  and  un- 
twisting threads,  preparing  skeins,  etc.,  make  combined 
labour  a  necessity  in  the  weaving  industry ;  and,  wherever 
one  finds  a  weaver  settlement,  he  must  find  there  a  large 
number  of  these  people,  as  is  explained  by  the  proverb 
that  "  the  Cbetti  (merchant)  lost  by  partnership,  while 
the  weaver  came  to  grief  by  isolation."  When  plying 
shuttles  in  the  weaving  process,  the  weavers  always 
use  their  feet  in  shifting  the  warp,  by  treading  on  a 
press.  Thus,  if  a  weaver  unfortunately  happens  to 
have  a  sore  on  his  foot,  it  means  loss  to  him  ;  or,  as  the 
proverb  says,  "  If  a  dog  gets  a  sore  on  its  head,  it  never 


recovers  from  it ;  and  even  so  a   weaver   who  gets    a 
sore  on  his  foot."  ^ 

Salige  (wire). — A  gotra  of  Kurni. 

Saliyan.— The  Saliyan  weavers  of  Kornad  and 
Ayyampet,  in  the  Tanjore  district,  are  a  Tamil-speaking 
class,  who  must  not  be  confused  with  the  Telugu  Sales. 
They  afford  an  interesting  example  of  how  a  limited 
number  of  families,  following  the  same  occupation,  can 
crystallise  into  a  separate  caste.  They  claim  to  have 
a  Puranam  relating  to  their  origin,  which  is  said  to 
be  found  in  the  Sthalapuranam  of  the  Nalladai  temple. 
They  believe  that  they  are  the  descendants  of  one  Saliya 
Maha  Rishi,  a  low-caste  man,  who  did  service  for 
one  Visakar,  who  was  doing  penance  near  Nalladai. 
Through  the  grace  of  the  rishi  Visakar,  Saliya  became  a 
rishi,  and  married  two  wives.  The  Saliyans  are  said  to 
be  descended  from  the  offspring  of  the  first  wife,  and  the 
Mottai  Saliyans  from  the  offspring  of  the  second. 

The  Saliyans  have  taken  to  wearing  the  sacred 
thread,  engage  Brahman  purohits,  and  are  guided  by 
Brahman  priests.  They  are  said  to  have  had  their  own 
caste  priests  until  a  Brahman  from  Sendangudi,  near 
Mayavaram,  accepted  the  office  of  priest.  It  is  reported 
that,  in  former  days,  the  Saliyans  were  not  allowed  to 
sell  their  goods  except  in  a  fixed  spot  called  mamarath- 
thumedu,  where  they  set  out  their  cloths  on  bamboos. 
High-caste  people  never  touched  the  cloths,  except  with 
a  stick.  At  the  present  day  the  Saliyans  occupy  a  good 
position  in  the  social  scale,  and  employ  Brahman  cooks, 
though  no  other  castes  will  eat  in  their  houses. 

A  curious  feature  in  connection  with  the  Saliyans 
is  that,  contrary  to  the  usual  rule  among  Tamil  castes, 

♦  Madras  Mail,  1904. 



they  have  exogamous  septs  or  vidu  (house),  of  which  the 

following  are  examples  : — 

Mandhi,  black  monkey. 
Kottangkachchi,  cocoanut 

Thuniyan,  cloth. 
Kachchandhi,  gunny-bag. 
Vellai  parangi,  white  vegetable 

Ettadiyan,  eight  feet. 
Thadiyan,  stout. 
Kazhudhai,  donkey. 
Thavalai,  frog. 
Sappaikalan,  crooked-legged. 
Malaiyan,  hill. 
Kaththan,    an   attendant    on 


Ozhakkan,  a  measure. 
Thondhi,  belly. 
Munginazhi,  bamboo  measure. 
Odakkazhinjan,  one  wljo  defse- 

cated  when  running. 
Kamban,  the  Tamil  poet. 
Ottuvidu,  tiled  house. 
Kalli,  Euphorbia  Tirucalli. 
Sirandhan,  a  noble  person. 
Thambiran,  master  or  lord. 
Kollai,  backyard. 
Madlvidu,  storeyed  house. 
Murugan,  name  of  a  person. 

The  Saliyans  have  further  acquired  gotras  named 
after  rishis,  and,  when  questioned  as  to  their  gotra,  refer 
to  the  Brahman  purohits. 

The  Saliyan  weavers  of  silk  Kornad  women's  cloths, 
who  have  settled  at  Mayavaram  in  the  Tanjore  district, 
neither  intermarry  nor  interdine  with  the  Saliyans  of  the 
Tinnevelly  district,  though  they  belong  to  the  same 
linguistic  division.  The  Tinnevelly  Saliyans  closely 
follow  the  Kaikolans  in  their  various  ceremonials,  and 
in  their  social  organisation,  and  interdine  with  them. 
Saliya  women  wear  three  armlets  on  the  upper  arm, 
whereas  Kaikola  women  only  wear  a  single  armlet. 
The  Saliyans  may  not  marry  a  second  wife  during  the 
lifetime  of  the  first  wife,  even  if  she  does  not  bear 
children.  They  may,  however,  adopt  children.  Some 
of  the  Tinnevelly  Saliyans  have  taken  to  trade  and  agri- 
culture, while  others  weave  coarse  cotton  cloths,  and  dye 
cotton  yarn. 


In  the  Census  Report,  1901,  Ataviyar  is  recorded  as 
"a  synonym  for,  or  rather  title  of  the  Tinnevelly  Sales." 
Further,  Pattariyar  is  described  as  a  Tamil  corruption 
of  Pattu  Saliyan,  returned  by  some  of  the  Tinnevelly 
Sales.  The  Adaviyar  or  Pattalia  Settis  are  Tamilians, 
probably  an  offshoot  of  the  Kaikolans,  and  have  no 
connection  with  the  Telugu  Pattu  Sales,  who,  like  the 
Padma  Sales,  retain  their  mother-tongue  wherever  they 
settle.  It  is  recorded  *  in  connection  with  the  Saliyar 
of  the  Chingleput  district,  many  of  whom  are  Kaikolans, 
that  "a  story  is  current  of  their  persecution  by  one  Salva 
Naik  (said  to  have  been  a  Brahman).  The  result  of  this 
was  that  large  bodies  of  them  were  forced  to  flee  from 
Conjeeveram  to  Madura,  Tanjore,  and  Tinnevelly,  where 
their  representatives  are  still  to  be  found." 

The  Adaviyars  follow  the  Tamil  Puranic  type  of 
marriage  ceremonies,  and  have  a  sirutali  (small  tali)  as  a 
marriage  badge.  The  caste  deity  is  Mukthakshiamman. 
The  dead  are  always  cremated. 

Saluppan. — The  Tamil  equivalent  of  the  Telugu 
Janappan,  which  is  derived  from  janapa,  the  sunn  hemp 
( Crotolaria  junced). 

Samagara. — The  Samagaras  have  been  described  t 
as  "  the  principal  class  of  leather-workers  in  the  South 
Canara  district.  They  are  divided  into  two  endoga- 
mous  groups,  the  Canarese  Samagaras  and  the  Arya 
Samagaras.  The  latter  speak  Marathi.  Though  the 
Samagaras  are  in  the  general  estimation  as  low  a  caste 
as  the  Holeyas,  and  do  not  materially  differ  from  them 
in  their  religious  and  other  ceremonies  and  customs, 
they  are,  as  a  rule,  of  much  fairer  complexion,  and  the 
women  are  often  very  handsome.     The  tanning  industry 

*  Manual  of  the  Chingleput  district, 
t  Manual  of  the  South  Canara  district. 

SAM  ANT  AN  280 

is  chiefly  carried  on  by  the  Samagaras,  and  their  modus 
operandi  is  as  follows.  The  hides  are  soaked  for  a 
period  of  one  month  in  large  earthen  vats  containing 
water,  to  which  chunam  is  added  at  the  rate  of  two  seers 
per  hide.  After  the  expiry  of  the  above  period,  they 
are  soaked  in  fresh  water  for  three  days,  in  view  to 
the  chunam  being  removed.  They  are  then  put  into 
an  earthen  vessel  filled  with  water  and  the  leaves  of 
Phyllanthus  Emblica,  in  which  they  remain  for  twelve 
days.  After  this,  they  are  removed  and  squeezed,  and 
replaced  in  the  same  vessel,  where  they  are  allowed 
to  remain  for  about  a  month,  after  which  period  they  are 
again  removed,  washed  and  squeezed.  They  are  then 
sewn  up  and  stuffed  with  the  bark  of  cashew,  daddala, 
and  nerale  trees,  and  hung  up  for  a  day.  After  this, 
the  stitching  is  removed,  and  the  hides  are  washed 
and  exposed  to  the  sun  to  dry  for  a  day,  when  they  be- 
come fit  for  making  sandals.  Some  of  the  hides  rot  in 
this  process  to  such  an  extent  as  to  become  utterly  unfit 
for  use." 

The  badge  of  the  Are  Samagara  at  Conjeeveram  is 
said  *  to  be  the  insignia  of  the  Mochis  (or  Mucchis),  a 
boy's  kite. 

Samaritan.—"  This,"  the  Census  Superintendent, 
1891,  writes,  ''may  be  called  the  caste  of  Malayalam 
Rajahs  and  chieftains,  but  it  is  hardly  a  separate  caste 
at  all,  at  any  rate  at  present,  for  those  Nayars  and  others 
who  have  at  any  time  been  petty  chieftains  in  the  country, 
call  themselves  Samantas.  The  primary  meaning  of  the 
word  Samanta  is  given  by  Dr.  Gundert  f  as  the  chief  of 
a  district."  The  number  of  people  who  returned  them- 
selves as  Samantas  (including  a  few  Samantan  Brahmans) 

•  Ind.  Ant,,  IV,  1875.  t  Malayalam  and  English  Dictionary. 


at  the  Census,  1881,  was  1,611,  and  in  1901  they  increased 

to  4,351- 

In  a  suit  brought  against  the  Collector  of  Malabar 

(Mr.  Logan)  some  years  ago  by  one  Nilambur  Thachara 

Kovil    Mana    Vikrama,    alias    Elaya    Tirumalpad,    the 

plaintiff  entered  an  objection  to  his  being  said  by  the 

Collector  to  be  of  "  a  caste  (Nayar),  who  are  permitted 

to  eat  fish  and  flesh,  except  of  course  beef."     He  stated 

in    court    that    he    was  "  a  Samantan   by  caste,  and  a 

Samantan  is  neither  a  Brahman,  nor  a  Kshatriya,  nor  a 

Vaisya,   nor   a  Sudra."     Samantan,    according   to  him, 

is  a  corruption  of  Samantran,  which,  he  stated,  meant 

one  who  performs  ceremonies  without  mantrams.     He 

said  that   his   caste   observes   all    the   ceremonies  that 

Brahmans  do,  but  without  mantrams.     And  he  gave  the 

following  as  the  main  points  in  which  his  caste  differs 

from  that  of  the  Nayars.     Brahmans  can  take  their  food 

in  the  houses  of  members  of  his  caste,  while  they  cannot 

do  so  in  those  of  Nayars.     At  the  performance  of  sradhs 

in  his  caste,  Brahmans  are  fed,  while  this  is  not  done  in 

the  case  of  Nayars.     Brahmans  can  prepare  water  for 

the  purpose  of  purification  in  his  house,  but  not  in  that 

of  a  Nayar.     If  a  Nayar  touches  a  Samantan,  he  has  to 

bathe  in  the  same  way  as  a  Brahman  would  have  to  do. 

For  the  performance  of  marriages  and  other  ceremonies 

in  his  caste,  Malabar  Brahmans  are  absolutely  necessary. 

At  marriages  the  tali  is  tied  by  Kshatriyas.     A  Samantan 

has  fourteen  days'  pollution,  while  a  Nayar  has  fifteen. 

He  can  only  eat  what  a  Brahman  can  eat.     He  added 

that  he  was  of  the  same  caste  as  the  Zamorin  of  Calicut. 

A  number  of  witnesses,    including    the  author  of  the 

Keralavakhsha  Kramam,  were  examined  in  support  of 

his  assertions.     It  was  noted  by  the  District  Judge  that 

no  documentary  evidence  was  produced,  or  reference  to 


public  records  or  works  of  authority  made  in  support  of 
the  theory  as  to  the  existence  of  a  caste  of  Samantas 
who  are  not  Nayars,  and  are  classed  under  Kshatriyas, 
and  above  the  Vaisyas.  The  following  account  is 
given  by  the  author  of  the  Keralavakhsha  Kramam 
of  the  origin  of  the  Samantas.  Some  Kshatriyas  who, 
being  afraid  of  Parasu  Rama,  were  wandering  in  foreign 
parts,  and  not  observing  caste  rules,  came  to  Malabar, 
visited  Cheraman  Perumal,  and  asked  for  his  protec- 
tion. On  this  Cheraman  Perumal,  with  the  sanction 
of  the  Brahmans,  and  in  pursuance  of  the  rules  laid 
down  by  the  Maharajas  who  had  preceded  him,  classed 
these  people  as  members  of  the  Samantra  caste. 
"That  this  book,"  the  Judge  observed,  "can  be  looked 
on  as  being  in  any  way  an  authority  on  difficult  and 
obscure  historical  questions,  or  that  the  story  can  be 
classed  as  more  than  a  myth,  there  are  no  grounds  for 
supposing."  No  linguistic  work  of  recognised  authority 
was  produced  in  support  of  the  derivation  of  the  word 
Samantan  from  Samantran,  meaning  without  mantrams. 
One  exhibit  in  the  case  above  referred  to  was  an 
extract  from  the  report  of  a  commission  appointed  to 
inspect  the  state  and  condition  of  the  province  of 
Malabar.  It  is  dated  nth  October,  1793,  and  in  it 
allusion  is  made  to  the  *  Tichera  Tiroopaar '  who  is 
described  as  a  chief  Nayar  of  Nilambur  in  the  southern 
division  of  the  country.  Evidence  was  given  to  show 
that  Tichera  Tiroopaar  is  the  Nilambur  Tirumulpad. 
And,  in  a  letter  from  the  Supervisor  of  Malabar,  dated 
15th  November,  1793,  allusion  is  made  to  Tichera  Tiroo- 
paar as  a  Nayar.  Two  extracts  from  Buchanan's  well- 
known  work  on  Mysore,  Canara  and  Malabar,  were  also 
filed  as  exhibits.  In  one  Buchanan  relates  what  was 
told  him  by  the  Brahmans  of  the  history  of  *  Malayala'. 


Among  other  things,  he  mentions  that  Cheraman  Perumal, 
having  come  to  the  resolution  of  retiring  to  Mecca,  went 
to  Calicut.  "  He  was  there  met  by  a  Nayar  who  was  a 
gallant  chief,  but  who,  having  been  absent  at  the  division, 
had  obtained  no  share  of  his  master's  dominions.  Chera- 
man Perumal  thereupon  gave  him  his  sword,  and  desired 
him  to  keep  all  that  he  could  conquer.  From  this  person's 
sisters  are  descended  the  Tamuri  Rajahs  or  Zamorins." 
In  the  second  extract,  Buchanan  sums  up  the  result  of 
enquiries  that  he  had  made  concerning  the  Zamorin  and 
his  family.  He  states  that  the  head  of  the  family  is  the 
Tamuri  Rajah,  called  by  Europeans  the  Zamorin,  and 
adds  :  "  The  Tamuri  pretends  to  be  of  a  higher  rank  than 
the  Brahmans,  and  to  be  inferior  only  to  the  invisible 
gods,  a  pretension  that  was  acknowledged  by  his  subjects, 
but  which  is  held  as  absurd  and  abominable  by  the 
Brahmans,  by  whom  he  is  only  treated  as  a  Sudra." 

An  important  witness  said  that  he  knew  the  plaintiff, 
and  that  he  was  a  Sudra.  He  stated  that  he  had  lived 
for  two  years  in  the  Zamorin's  kovilagom,  and  knew  the 
customs  of  his  family.  According  to  him  there  was  no 
difference  between  his  own  caste  customs  and  those  of  the 
Zamorin.  He  said  that  Samantan  means  a  petty  chief- 
tain, and  drew  attention  to  the  *  Sukra  Niti,'  edited  by 
Dr.  Oppert,  where  a  Samantan  is  said  to  be  "he  who  gets 
annually  a  revenue  of  from  one  to  three  lakhs  karshom 
from  his  subjects  without  oppressing  them."  There 
are,  according  to  him,  some  Nayars  who  call  themselves 
Samantas,  and  he  added  that  when,  in  1887,  the  Collector 
of  Malabar  called  for  lists  of  all  stanom-holders  *  in  the 
district,  he  examined  these  lists,  and  found  that  some  of 
the  Nayar  chiefs  called  themselves  Samantan. 

•  Sthanam  =  a  station,  rank  or  dignity.     Moore  :  Malabar  Law  and  Custom. 


"A  consideration  of  all  the  evidence,"  the  Judge 
writes,  "appears  to  me  to  prove  conclusively  that  the 
plaintiff  is  a  Nayar  by  caste  .  .  .  What  appears  to 
me,  from  a  consideration  of  the  evidence,  to  be  the  safe 
inference  to  draw  is  that  the  members  of  the  plaintiff's 
family,  and  also  the  descendants  of  certain  other  of  the 
old  Nayar  chieftains,  have  for  some  time  called  them- 
selves, and  been  called  by  others,  Samantas,  but  that 
there  is  no  distinctive  caste  of  that  name,  and  that  the 
plaintiff  is,  as  the  defendant  has  described  him,  a  Nayar 
by  caste."* 

The  Samantans  are  summed  up  as  follows  in  the 
Gazetteer  of  Malabar.  "  Samantan  is  the  generic  name 
of  the  group  of  castes  forming  the  aristocracy  of  Mala- 
bar, and  it  includes  the  following  divisions  : — Nambiyar, 
Unnltiri,  Adiyodi,  all  belonging  to  North  Malabar  ;  and 
Nedungadi,  Vallodi,  Eradi,  and  Tirumulpad,  all  belong- 
ing to  South  Malabar.  There  are  also  Nayars  with  the 
title  of  Nambiyar  and  Adiyodi.  Nedungadi,  Vallodi  and 
Eradi,  are  territorial  names  applied  to  the  Samantans 
indigenous  to  Ernad,  Walavanad,  and  Nedunganad 
respectively  ;  or  perhaps  it  may  be  more  correct  to  say 
that  the  tracts  in  question  take  their  names  from  the 
ruling  classes,  who  formerly  bore  sway  there.  Eradi  is 
the  caste  to  which  belongs  the  Zamorin  Raja  of  Calicut. 
It  is  also  the  name  of  a  section  of  Kiriyattil  Nayars. 
The  Raja  of  Walavanad  is  a  Vallodi.  Tirumulpad  is 
the  title  of  a  class  of  Samantans,  to  which  belong  a 
number  of  petty  chieftains,  such  as  the  Karnamulpad 
of  Manjeri  and  the  Tirumulpad  of  Nilambur.  The 
ladies  of  this  class  are  called  Kolpads  or  Koilammahs. 
Many  Nambiyars  in  North  Malabar  claim  to  belong  to 

*  Original  Suit  No.  31,  1887,     Court  of  Calicut.     Appeal  No.  202,  il 
High  Court  of  Madras. 


the  Samantan  caste,  but  there  is  at  least  reason  to 
suppose  that  they  are  properly  Nayars,  and  that  the 
claim  to  the  higher  rank  is  of  recent  date.  That  such 
recruitment  is  going  on  is  indicated  by  the  difference 
between  the  number  of  persons  returned  as  Samantans 
in  the  censuses  of  1901  and  1891  (4,351  and  1,225 
respectively),  which  is  far  above  the  normal  percentage 
of  increase  of  population.  Kshatriyas  wear  the  punul 
(thread) ;  Samantans  as  a  rule  do  not.  Most  Kshatriyas 
eat  with  Brahmans,  and  have  a  pollution  period  of 
eleven  nights,  indicating  that  their  position  in  the  caste 
hierarchy  lies  between  the  Brahmans  with  ten  days  and 
the  Ambalavasis  proper  with  twelve.  Samantans  as  a 
rule  observe  fifteen  days'  pollution,  and  may  not  eat  with 
Brahmans.  Both  follow  marumakkatayam  (inheritance 
in  the  female  line),  and  their  women  as  a  rule  have 
sambandham  (alliance)  only  with  Brahmans  or  Kshatri- 
yas. Those  who  belong  to  the  old  Royal  families  are 
styled  Raja  or  Tamburan  (lord),  their  ladies  Tambu- 
rattis,  and  their  houses  Kovilagams  or  palaces.  Some 
Samantans  have  the  caste  titles  of  Kartavu  and  Kaimal. 
But  it  does  not  appear  that  there  are  really  any  material 
differences  between  the  various  classes  of  Samantans, 
other  than  purely  social  differences  due  to  their  relative 
wealth  and  influence." 

"Tradition,"  writes  the  Travancore  Census  Super- 
intendent (1901),  "traces  the  Samantas  to  the  prudent 
Kshatriyas,  who  cast  off  the  holy  thread,  to  escape 
detection  and  slaughter  by  Parasu  Rama.  They  are 
believed  to  have  then  fled  to  uninhabited  forests  till 
they  forgot  the  Sandhyavandana  prayers,  and  became 
in  certain  respects  no  better  than  Sudras.  Thus  they 
came,  it  is  said,  to  be  called  Amantrakas,  Samantrakas, 
Samantas,  or  having  no  mantra  at  all.     Referring  to  this, 

samantan  286 

Mr.  Stuart  says  *  *  Neither  philology,  nor  anything  else, 
supports  this  fable.'     From  the  word  Samantra,  Samanta 
can,  no  doubt,  be  conveniently  derived,  but,  if  they  could 
not  repeat  mantras,  they  should  have  been  called  Aman- 
tras  and  not  Samantras.     In  the  Kerala  Mahatmya  we 
read   that    the   Perumals   appointed   Samantas   to    rule 
over  portions  of  their  kingdom.     Taking  the  Sanskrit 
word  Samanta,  we  may  understand  it  to  mean  a  petty 
chief  or  ruler.     It  is  supposed  that  the  Perumals  who 
came  to  Malabar  contracted  matrimonial  alliances  with 
high  class   Nayar  women,  and  that  the  issue  of  such 
unions  were   given  chiefships  over  various  extents  of 
territories.     Changes  in  their  manners  and  customs  were, 
it  is  said,  made  subsequently,  by  way  of  approximation  to 
the  Kshatriyas  proper.     Though  the  sacred  thread,  and 
the  Gayatri  hymn  were  never  taken  up,  less  vital  changes, 
as,  for  instance,  that  of  the  wearing  of  the  ornaments  of 
the  Kshatriya  women,  or  of  consorting  only  with  Nam- 
butiri  husbands,    were   adopted.     Those  who    lived   in 
Ernat  formed  themselves   by  connections  and  alliances 
into  one  large  caste,  and  called  themselves  Eratis.     Those 
who  lived  in  Valluvanat  became  Vallotis.     The  unification 
could  not  assume  a  more  cosmopolitan  character  as  the 
several  families  rose  to  importance  at  different  times,  and, 
in  all  probability,  from  different  sections  of  the  Nayars." 
In  the  Travancore   Census  Report  (1901)  the  chief 
divisions  of  the  Samantas  are  said  to  be  Atiyoti,  Unyatiri, 
Pantala,  Erati,  Valloti,  and  Netungati.     "The  Unyatiris," 
the  Travancore   Census  Superintendent  writes  further, 
"  look  upon  themselves  as  a  higher  class  than  the  rest 
of  the  Samantas,  as  they  have  an  Aryapattar  to  tie  the 
tali  of  their  girls,  the  other  five  castes  employing  only 

*  Madras  Census  Report,  1891. 


Kshatriyas  (Tirumulpats)  for  that  duty.  The  word 
Atiyoti  has  sometimes  been  derived  from  Atiyan,  a  slave 
or  vassal,  the  tradition  being  that  the  Kattanat  Raja, 
having  once  been  ousted  from  his  kingdom  by  the 
Zamorin  of  Calicut,  sought  the  assistance  of  the  Raja  of 
Chirakkal.  The  latter  is  believed  to  have  made  the 
Kattanat  Raja  his  vassal  as  a  condition  for  his  territory 
beinof  restored.  The  Unnittiris  are  not  found  in  Travan- 
core,  their  place  being  taken  by  the  Unyatiris,  who  do 
not  differ  from  them  materially  in  any  of  their  manners 
and  customs.  The  word  Unnittiri  means  the  venerable 
boy,  and  is  merely  a  title  of  dignity.  The  word  Pantala 
comes  from  Bhandarattil,  meaning  *  in  or  belonging  to 
the  royal  treasury'.  They  appear  to  have  been  once 
the  ruling  chiefs  of  small  territories.  Their  women  are 
known  as  Kovilammamar,  i.e.^  the  ladies  of  palaces  or 
ranis.  The  Erati,  the  Valloti,  and  Netungati  are  British 
Malabar  castes,  and  receive  their  names  from  the  locali- 
ties, to  which  they  may  have  been  indigenous — Ernat, 
Valluvanat,  and  Netunganat.  The  Zamorin  of  Calicut 
is  an  Erati  by  caste.  [In  1792,  the  Joint  Commissioners 
wrote  that  *  the  Cartinaad  and  Samoory  (the  principal 
families  in  point  of  extent  of  dominion)  are  of  the  Samanth 
or  Euree  (cowherd)  caste.']  *  Some  of  these  Eratis, 
such  as  the  Raja  of  Nilambur,  are  called  Tirumulpats. 
The  only  peculiarity  with  these  Tirumulpats  is  that 
they  may  tie  the  tali  of  their  women,  and  need  not  call 
other  Tirumulpats  for  the  purpose,  as  the  rest  of  the 
Samantas  have  to  do.  A  title  that  several  Samantas 
often  take  is  Kartavu  (agent  or  doer),  their  females 
being  called  Koilpats,  meaning  literally  those  who 
live    in    palaces.      The    Samantas    of    Manchery    and 

•  Sec  Malabar  Quart.  Review,  II,  4,  1903. 


Amarampalam  in  Malabar  are  also  called  Tirumulpats. 
The    Samantas  of  Chuntampattai    and    Cherupulasseri 
are  called  Kartavus.     Both  Kartas  and  Tirumulpats  are 
called    by  the  Sudra  castes  Tampuran  or  prince.     The 
caste  government  of  the  Samantas  rests  with  the  Nam- 
putiri  Vaidikas,  and  their  priesthood  is  undertaken  by 
the    Namputiris.     They   follow  the  marumakkathayam 
law  of  inheritance  (through  the  female  line),  and  observe 
both  the  forms  of  marriage  in  vogue  in  the  country, 
namely,  tali-kettu  and  sambandham.     Women  wear  the 
three  special  ornaments  of  the  Kshatriyas,  viz.,  the  mittil 
or  cherutali,  entram,  and,  kuzhal.     The  chief  of  these  is 
the  mittil,    which   is    used    as   the  wedding  ornament. 
It  has  the  appearance  of  Rama's  parasu   or  battle-axe. 
The  houses  of  those   Samantas,  who  are  or  were  till 
recently  rulers  of  territories,  are  known  as  kottarams  or 
palaces,    while   those   of    the   commonalty   are   merely 
called  mathams,  a  name  given  to  the  houses  of  Brahmans 
not  indigenous  to  Malabar.     The  occupations,  which  the 
Samantas  pursue,  are  chiefly  personal  attendance  on  the 
male  and  female  members  of  Royal  families.     Others 
are  landlords,   and   a   few    have    taken   to  the  learned 
professions."     In  the  Cochin  Census  Report,    1901,  it  is 
stated  that  "  Samantas  and  Ambalavasis  do  not  inter- 
dine.     At    public  feasts   they  sit   together   for    meals. 
Brahmans,     Kshatriyas,    Nampidis,    and    most   of    the 
Ambalavasi  castes,  do  not  take  water  from  them.     Birth 
and  death  pollution  last  for  eleven  days." 

In  the  Madras  Civil  List  of  titles  and  title-holders, 
the  Zamorin  of  Calicut,  and  the  Valiya  Rajas  of 
Chirakkal,  Kadattanad,  Palghat,  and  Waluvanad,  are 
returned  as  Samantas. 

Samanthi  {^Chrysanthemum  indicum). — An  exoga- 
mous  sept  of  Kuruba  and  Togata.     The  flowers  of  the 

289  SAMAYA 

chrysanthemum  are  largely  used  for  garlands,  etc.,  in 
temple  worship. 

Samantiya. — The  Samantiyas  are  an  Oriya  caste  of 
agricultural  labourers  and  firewood  sellers.  It  has  been 
suggested  that  the  caste  name  is  derived  from  samantiba, 
which  denotes  sauntering  to  pick  up  scattered  things. 
The  Samantiyas  are  one  of  the  castes,  whose  touch  is 
supposed  to  convey  pollution,  and  they  consequently 
live  apart  in  separate  quarters. 

All  the  Samantiyas  are  said  to  belong  to  the  nagasa 
(cobra)  gotra.  The  headman  is  called  Behara,  and  he 
is  assisted  by  an  official  called  Poricha.  There  is  also 
a  caste  servant  entitled  Dogara.  The  caste  title  is 
Podhano,  which  is  also  frequently  given  out  as  being  the 
name  of  the  caste. 

Samantiya  women  will  not  eat  food  prepared  by  Brah- 
mans  or  members  of  other  castes,  and  they  apparently 
object  to  cooking  in  open  places  when  travelling,  and 
leave  this  work  for  the  men  to  perform.  An  Oriya 
Brahman  purohit  officiates  at  the  marriage  ceremonies, 
which,  with  slight  variations,  conform  to  the  standard 
Oriya  type.  The  marriage  pandal  (booth)  is  generally 
covered  with  cocoanut  leaves  and  leafy  X.vf\gs  oi  Eugenia 
Jambolana  and  Zizyphus  Jujuba.  Four  lights,  and  a 
vessel  of  water,  are  kept  on  the  dais  throughout  the 
marriage  ceremonies.  The  knot,  with  which  the  cloths 
of  the  bride  and  bridegroom  are  tied  together,  is  untied 
on  the  evening  of  the  bibha  (wedding)  day,  instead  of 
on  the  seventh  day  as  among  many  other  castes. 

Samanto.— A  title  of  Jatapus,  and  other  Oriya 

Samaya.-— In  his  *  Inscriptions  at  Sravana  Belgola' 
in  Mysore,   Mr.  Lewis    Rice  refers   to   the    Samaya  as 
"  Dasaris  or  Vaishnava  religious  mendicants,   invested 


with  authority  as  censors  of  morals.  No  religious 
ceremony  or  marriage  could  be  undertaken  without 
gaining  their  consent  by  the  payment  of  fees,  etc. 
Under  the  former  Rajas  the  office  was  farmed  out  in  all 
the  large  towns,  and  credited  in  the  public  accounts  as 
samayachara.  An  important  part  of  the  profits  arose 
either  from  the  sale  of  women  accused  of  incontinency, 
or  from  fines  imposed  on  them  for  the  same  reason. 
The  unfortunate  women  were  popularly  known  as 
Sarkar  (Government)  wives."  "  The  rules  of  the 
system,"  Wilks  writes,*  "  varied  according  to  the  caste 
of  the  accused.  Among  Brahmans  and  Komatis, 
females  were  not  sold,  but  expelled  from  their  caste, 
and  branded  on  the  arm  as  prostitutes.  They  then 
paid  to  the  ijardar  (or  contractor)  an  annual  sum  as  long 
as  they  lived,  and,  when  they  died,  all  their  property 
became  his.  Females  of  other  Hindu  castes  were  sold 
without  any  compunction  by  the  ijardar,  unless  some 
relative  stepped  forward  to  satisfy  his  demand.  These 
sales  were  not,  as  might  be  supposed,  conducted  by 
stealth,  nor  confined  to  places  remote  from  general 
observation  ;  for,  in  the  large  town  of  Bangalore,  under 
the  very  eyes  of  the  European  inhabitants,  a  large 
building  was  appropriated  to  the  accommodation  of 
these  unfortunate  women,  and,  so  late  as  1833,  a  distinct 
proclamation  of  the  Commissioners  was  necessary  to 
enforce  the  abolition  of  this  detestable  traffic." 

Samayamuvaru.— An  itinerant  class  of  mendi- 
cants attached  to  the  Sale  caste.  From  a  note  by  Mr.  C. 
Hayavadana  Rao,  I  gather  that  they  say  that  the  name 
is  an  abbreviation  of  Ranasamayamuvaru,  or  men  of  the 
day  of  battle.     According  to  a  legend,  when    Bhavana 

*  Historical  Sketches  of  the  South  of  India  :  Mysore. 


Rishi,  the  patron  saint  of  the  caste,  was  challenged  to 
battle  by  Kalavaslna,  a  rakshasa,  these  people  were 
created,  and,  with  their  assistance,  the  rakshasa  was 
conquered.  In  recognition  of  their  services,  Bhavana 
Rishi  made  the  Sales  maintain  them.  They  wander 
from  place  to  place  in  single  families,  and,  when  they 
reach  a  halting-place,  dress  up,  and  visit  the  house  of 
the  Pedda  Senapati  (headman),  .who  feeds  them  for  the 
day,  and  gives  a  chit  (note)  showing  the  amount  paid  by 
him.  At  their  visits  to  Sale  houses,  Bhavana  Rishi  is 
praised.  They  marry  in  the  presence  of,  and  with  the 
aid  of  the  Sales. 

Samban.— Samban,  meaning  Samba  or  Siva,  has 
been  recorded  as  a  sub-division  of  Idaiyan  and 
Paraiyan.  At  times  of  census,  Sambuni  Kapu  has  been 
returned  as  the  caste  name  by  some  Palle  fishermen  in 

Sambandham.— Sambandham,  meaning  literally 
connexion,  is  "  the  term  used  by  the  Nayars  [and  other 
castes]  of  South  Malabar  to  denote  that  a  man  and 
woman  are  united  by  a  (/it as i imon'ia]  bond."*  In 
Act  IV  of  1896,  Madras,  sambandham  is  defined  as  "an 
alliance  between  a  man  and  a  woman,  by  reason  of  which 
they,  in  accordance  with  the  custom  of  the  community, 
to  which  they  belong,  or  either  of  them  belongs,  cohabit 
or  intend  to  cohabit  as  husband  and  wife." 

Same  (millet  :  Panicum  miliare). — An  exogamous 
sept  of  Kuruba. 

Sami  Puli  (holy  tiger). — An  exogamous  sept  of 

Sammathi  Makkal  (hammer-men). — An  exoga- 
mous section  of  Kalian. 

•  Moore  :  Malabar  Law  and  Custom,  1905. 
VI-I9  B 


Sammeraya.^A  name  for  Telugu  beggars  employed 
as  servants  and  messengers  by  the  heads  of  Lingayat 
mutts  (religious  institutions).  It  is  derived  from  samme, 
denoting  confederacy  or  league,  and  denotes  those  who 
are  bound  to  the  rules  laid  down  by  Lingayats. 

Samolo. — A  title  of  Doluva. 

Sampige.^Sampige  and  Sampangi  (champac : 
Michelia  Champac  a)  have  been  recorded  as  an  exoga- 
mous  sept  of  Kurni  and  Odde.  Champac  flowers  are 
used  in  the  manufacture  of  temple  garlands. 

Samudra. — Samudra,  Samudram,  or  Samudrala, 
meaning  the  ocean,  has  been  recorded  as  an  exogamous 
sept  of  Telugu  Brahmans,  Koravas,  Kurubas,  Balijas, 
and  Malas.  The  equivalent  Tamudri  occurs  as  the  title 
of  the  Zamorin,  who  is  the  sea-king  or  ruler  of  Calicut. 

Sani. — The  Sanivallu,  who  are  a  Telugu  dancing- 
girl  caste,  are  described,  in  the  Vizagapatam  Manual,  as 
women  who  have  not  entered  into  matrimony,  gain 
money  by  prostitution,  and  acting  as  dancers  at  feasts. 
Sani  is  also  a  title  of  the  Oriya  Doluvas  in  Ganjam, 
who  are  said  to  be  descended  from  Puri  Rajas  by  their 
concubines.  The  streets  occupied  by  Sanis  are,  in 
Ganjam,  known  as  Sani  vidhi.  I  have  heard  of  mission- 
aries, who,  in  consequence  of  this  name,  insist  on  their 
wives  being  addressed  as  Ammagaru  instead  of  by  the 
customary  name  Dorasani. 

In  a  note  on  the  Sanis  of  the  Godavari  district, 
Mr.  F.  R.  Hemingway  writes  as  follows.  "  In  this 
district,  dancing-girls  and  prostitutes  are  made  up  of  six 
perfectly  distinct  castes,  which  are  in  danger  of  being 
confused.  These  are  the  Sanis  proper,  Bogams, 
Dommara  Sanis,  Turaka  Sanis,  Mangala  Bogams,  and 
Madiga  Bogams.  Of  these,  the  Bogams  claim  to  be 
superior,  and  will  not  dance  in  the  presence  of,  or  after 


a  performance  by  any  of  the  others.  The  Sanis  do  not 
admit  this  claim,  but  they  do  not  mind  dancing  after  the 
Bogams,  or  in  their  presence.  All  the  other  classes  are 
admittedly  inferior  to  the  Sanis  and  the  Bogams.  The 
Sanis  would  scorn  to  eat  with  any  of  the  other  dancing 
castes.  The  Sani  women  are  not  exclusively  devoted  to 
their  traditional  profession.  Some  of  them  marry  male 
members  of  the  caste,  and  live  respectably  with  them. 
The  men  do  not,  as  among  the  dancing  castes  of  the 
south,  assist  in  the  dancing,  or  by  playing  the  accom- 
paniments or  forming  a  chorus,  but  are  cultivators  and 
petty  traders.  Like  the  dancing-girls  of  the  south,  the 
Sanis  keep  up  their  numbers  by  the  adoption  of  girls  of 
other  castes.  They  do  service  in  the  temples,  but  they 
are  not  required  to  be  formally  dedicated  or  married  to 
the  god,  as  in  the  Tamil  country.  Those  of  them  who 
are  to  become  prostitutes  are  usually  married  to  a  sword 
on  attaining  puberty." 

Sani,  meaning  apparently  cow-dung,  occurs  as  a  sub- 
division of  the  Tamil  Agamudaiyans. 

Sanjogi.— The  Sanjogis  are  an  Oriya  class  of 
religious  mendicants,  who  wear  the  sacred  thread,  and 
act  as  priests  for  Panos  and  other  lowly  people.  The 
name  indicates  connection,  and  that  they  are  the 
connecting  link  between  ordinary  people  and  those  who 
have  given  up  earthly  pleasures  (Sanyasis).  The 
Sanjogis  follow  the  ordinary  as  well  as  the  ascetic  life. 
Mr.  G.  Ramamurti  Pantulu  informs  me  that  they  are 
believed  to  be  the  offspring  of  ascetics  who  have  violated 
their  vow  of  celibacy,  and  women  with  whom  they  have 
lived.  They  make  and  sell  bead  rosaries  of  the  sacred 
tulsi  or  basil  [Ocimttm  sanctum)^  which  are  worn  by 
various  Oriya  castes.  Some  are  cultivators,  while  others 
are  beggars.     A  Sanjogi  beggar  goes  about  with  a  bell 


on  the  thigh,  and  a  coloured  pot  on  the  left  shoulder.  A 
few  are  employed  at  Oriya  maths  (religious  institutions), 
where  it  is  their  duty  to  invite  Bairagis  and  ascetics  to  a 
dinner  party,  and  afterwards  to  remove  the  leaf  platters, 
and  eat  the  food  which  is  left. 

Sankati  (ragi  or  millet  pudding). — An  exogamous 
sept  of  Boya.  Ragi  is  the  staple  dietary  of  many  of  the 
lower  classes,  who  cannot  afford  rice. 

Sanku.— Sanku,  the  conch  or  chank  {Tttrbinella 
rapa)  has  been  recorded  as  a  sub-division  of  Dasaris, 
Koppala  Velamas,  and  Paraiyans  who  act  as  conch- 
blowers  at  funerals,  and  as  an  exogamons  sept  of 
Kuruba.  Sankukatti,  or  those  who  tie  the  chank,  occurs 
as  a  sub-division  of  Idaiyan.  The  chank  shell,  which 
is  regularly  collected  by  divers  off  Tuticorin  in  the 
Tinnevelly  district,  is  highly  prized  by  Hindus,  and  used 
for  offering  libations,  and  as  a  musical  instrument  at 
temple  services,  marriages,  and  other  ceremonials. 
Vaishnavites  and  Madhvas  are  branded  with  the  emblems 
of  the  chank  and  chakram.  The  rare  right-handed  chank 
shell  is  specially  valued,  and  purchased  for  large  sums. 
A  legend,  recorded  by  Baldseus,  runs  to  the  effect  that 
"  Garroude  (Garuda)  flew  in  all  haste  to  Brahma,  and 
brought  to  Kistna  the  chianko  or  kinkhorn  twisted  to 
the  right  ".  Such  a  shell  appears  on  the  coat-of-arms  of 
the  Raja  of  Cochin  and  on  the  coins  of  Travancore. 

Sanno  (little). — A  sub-division  of  Bottada,  Omanaito, 
Pentiya,  and  Sondi. 

Sanror.— A  synonym  of  Shanans,  who  claim  that 
Shanan  is  derived  from  Sanror,  meaning  the  learned  or 

Santarasi.— An  exogamous  sept  of  Dandasi.  The 
members  thereof  may  not  use  mats  made  of  the  sedge  of 
this  name. 


Santha  (a  fair). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Devanga 
and  Odde. 

Santo.— A  sub-division  of  Oriya  Brahmans  and 

Sanyasi.— "  A  Sanyasi  is  literally  a  man  who  has 
forsaken  all,  and  who  has  renounced  the  world  and  leads 
a  life  of  celibacy,  devoting  himself  to  religious  meditation 
and  abstraction,  and  to  the  study  of  holy  books.  He  is 
considered  to  have  attained  a  state  of  exalted  piety 
that  places  him  above  most  of  the  restrictions  of  caste 
and  ceremony.  His  is  the  fourth  Asrama  or  final  stage 
of  life  recommended  for  the  three  higher  orders. 
["  Having  performed  religious  acts  in  a  forest  during 
the  third  portion  of  his  life,  let  him  become  a  Sanyasi, 
for  the  fourth  portion  of  it,  abandoning  all  sensual  affec- 
tion." *]  The  number  of  Brahman  Sanyasis  is  very  small ; 
they  are  chiefly  the  Gurus  or  High  Priests  of  the  different 
sects.  These  are,  as  a  rule,,  men  of  learning,  and  heads 
of  monasteries,  where  they  have  a  number  of  disciples 
under  instruction  and  training  for  religious  discussion. 
They  are  supported  entirely  by  endowments  and  the  con- 
tributions of  their  disciples.  They  undertake  periodical 
tours  for  the  purpose  of  receiving  the  offerings  of  their 
followers.  Since  the  Sanyasi  is  considered  to  be  above 
all  sin,  and  to  have  acquired  sufficient  merit  for  salva- 
tion, no  sradha  is  performed  by  the  children  born  to  him 
before  he  became  an  anchorite.  [The  skull  of  a  Sanyasi 
is  broken  after  death,  as  a  guarantee  of  his  passage 
to  eternal  bliss.  Cf.  Gosayi.]  The  corpse  of  a  Sanyasi 
is  buried,  and  never  burnt,  or  thrown  into  the  river. 

"  The  majority  of  the  Sanyasis  found,  and  generally 
known  as  such,  are  a  class  of  Sudra  devotees,  who  live 

*  Manu. 

SAPIRI  296 

by  begging,  and  pretend  to  powers  of  divination.  They 
wear  garments  coloured  with  red  ochre,  and  allow  the 
hair  to  grow  unshorn.  They  often  have  settled  abodes, 
but  itinerate.  Many  are  married,  and  their  descendants 
keep  up  the  sect,  and  follow  the  same  calling."* 

Sapiri. — A  synonym  of  Relli. 

Sappaliga.— It  is  noted,  in  the  Madras  Census 
Report,  1 901,  that  "  in  some  taluks  of  South  Canara 
they  are  said  to  be  identical  with,  or  a  sub-caste  of 
Ganiga."  The  Ganigas  are  a  Canarese  caste,  of  which 
the  traditional  occupation  is  oil-pressing.  In  the  Manual 
of  the  South  Canara  district,  it  is  recorded  that 
"  Sappaligs  appear  to  be  identical  with  the  Devadigas 
(temple  musicians)  in  North  Canara,  though  they  are 
regarded  as  distinct  castes  in  South  Canara.  The 
Sappaligs  are,  as  the  name  sappal  (noise)  implies,  a 
class  of  musicians  in  temples,  but  a  number  of  them 
are  cultivators."  Sappaliga  is  an  occupational  term. 
The  musicians  among  the  Tulu  Moger  fishing  caste  are 
called  Sappaligas,  in  the  same  way  that  those  Mogers 
who  are  engaged  as  oil-pressers  are  called  Ganigas,  both 
being  occupational  names. 

Sara  (thread). — A  gotra  of  Kurni. 

Saragu  (dried  or  withered  leaves). — A  sub-division 
of  Valaiyan. 

Sarangulu.^Recorded,  in  the  Nellore  district,  as 
being  sailors.  The  name  is  doubtless  equivalent  to 
Serang,  which  has  been  defined  t  as  meaning  "  a  native 
boatswain,  or  chief  of  a  lascar  crew  ;  the  skipper  of  a 
small  native  vessel." 

Sarattu  (sacred  thread). — A  sub-division  of  Kanak- 
kan,  members  of  which  wear  the  sacred  thread. 

*  Mysore  Census  Report,  1891,  1901. 
t  Yule  and  Burnell.     Hobson-Jobson. 

297  SATANI 

Sarayi  (alcholic  liquor). — A  sub-division  of  Balija. 

Sarige  (lace). — The  name  of  a  class  of  gold-lace 
makers  in  Mysore,  and  of  an  exogamous  sept  of  Kuruba. 

Sastri.— In  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  Sastri 
(one  learned  in  the  shastras)  is  described  as  "  unrecog- 
nizable. The  word  is  used  as  a  title  by  Smarta 
Brahmans  in  the  Madras  Presidency,  but  the  persons 
returning  it  came  from  Bombay,  and  were  not 
Brahmans."  Sastri  is  recorded  in  my  notes  as  a  title  of 

Satani.— The  Satanis  are  described  in  the  Madras 
Census  Report,  1891,  as  "a  class  of  temple  servants 
very  much  like  the  Malis  of  Bengal.  The  word  Satani 
is  a  corrupt  form  of  Sattadavan,  which,  literally  means 
one  who  does  not  wear  (the  sacred  thread  and  tuft  of 
hair).  For  temple  services  Ramanuja  classed  Vaish- 
navites  into  Sattinavan  and  Sattadavan.  The  former 
are  invariably  Brahmans,  and  the  latter  Sudras.  Hence 
Satani  is  the  professional  name  given  to  a  group  of  the 
Vaishnava  creed.  It  is  sometimes  stated  that  the 
Satanis  of  the  Madras  Presidency  are  the  disciples  of 
the  famous  Bengali  reformer  Chaitanya  (15th  century), 
from  whom,  they  say,  the  term  Satani  took  its  origin. 
But,  so  far  as  I  can  ascertain,  this  supposition  rests  on 
no  better  foundation  than  the  similarity  in  sound  of  the 
two  names,  and  it  seems  to  me  more  than  doubtful. 
There  is  no  evidence  of  Chaitanya  having  ever  preached 
in  the  Dravidian  country,  and  the  tenets  of  the  Satanis  of 
this  Presidency  differ  widely  from  those  of  the  followers 
of  Chaitanya.  The  former  worship  only  Krishna,  while 
the  latter  venerate  Vishnu  in  the  form  of  Narayana  also. 
The  Satanis,  too,  have  as  much  reverence  for  Ramanuja 
as  the  followers  of  Chaitanya  have  towards  their  guru, 
who  is  said   to  be  an  incarnation  of  Krishna.     With 

SATANI  '  298 

regard  to  their  religion,  it  will  suffice  to  say  that  they  are 
Tengalai  Vaishnavites.  They  shave  their  heads  com- 
pletely, and  tie  their  lower  cloth  like  a  Brahman  bachelor. 
In  their  ceremonies  they  more  or  less  follow  the 
Brahmans,  but  the  sacred  thread  is  not  worn  by  them. 
Though  the  consumption  of  alcoholic  liquor  and  animal 
food  is  strictly  prohibited,  they  practice  both  to  a 
considerable  extent  on  all  festive  occasions,  and  at  sradhs. 
Drinking  and  other  excesses  are  common.  Some 
Satanis  bury  the  dead,  and  others  burn  them.  The 
principal  occupations  of  Satanis  are  making  garlands, 
carrying  the  torches  during  the  god's  procession,  and 
sweeping  the  temple  floor.  They  also  make  umbrellas, 
flower  baskets  and  boxes  of  palmyra  leaves,  and  prepare 
the  sacred  balls  of  white  clay  (for  making  the  Vaishna- 
vite  sectarian  mark),  and  saffron  powder.  Their  usual 
agnomen  is  Aiya." 

In  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  the  Satanis  are 
summed  up  as  being  "  a  Telugu  caste  of  temple  servants 
supposed  to  have  come  into  existence  in  the  time  of  the 
great  Valshnavite  reformer  Sri  Ramanujacharya  (A.D. 
1 100).  The  principal  endogamous  sub-divisions  of  this 
caste  are  (i)  Ekakshari,  (2)  Chaturakshari,  (3)  Ashtak- 
shari,  and  (4)  Kulasekhara.  The  Ekaksharis  (eka,  one, 
and  akshara,  syllable)  hope  to  get  salvation  by  reciting 
the  one  mystic  syllable  Om  ;  the  Chaturaksharis  believe 
in  the  religious  efiicacy  of  the  four  syllables  Ra-ma-nu-ja  ; 
the  Ashtaksharis  hold  that  the  recitation  of  the  eight 
syllables  Om-na-mo-na-ra-ya-na-ya  (Om  !  salutation  to 
Narayana)  will  ensure  them  eternal  bliss ;  and  the 
Kulasekharas,  who  wear  the  sacred  thread,  claim  to  be 
the  descendants  of  the  Vaishnava  saint  Kulasekhara 
Alvar,  formerly  a  king  of  the  Kerala  country.  The  first 
two  sections  make  umbrellas,  flower  garlands,  etc.,  and 

299  SATANI 

are  also  priests  to  Balijas  and  other  Sudra  castes  of  the 
Vaishnava  sects,  while  the  members  of  the  other  two 
have  taken  to  temple  service.  In  their  social  and  reli- 
gious customs,  all  the  sub-divisions  closely  imitate  the 
Tengalai  Vaishnava  Brahmans.  The  marriage  of  girls 
after  puberty,  and  the  remarriage  of  widows,  are  strictly 
prohibited.  Most  of  them  employ  Brahman  purohits, 
but  latterly  they  have  taken  to  getting  priests  from  their 
own  caste.  They  attach  no  importance  to  the  Sanskrit 
Vedas,  or  to  the  ritual  sanctioned  therein,  but  revere  the 
sacred  hymns  of  the  twelve  Vaishnava  saints  or  Alvars, 
called  Nalayira  Prabandham  (book  of  the  four  thousand 
songs),  which  is  in  Tamil.  From  this  their  purohits 
recite  verses  during  marriages  and  other  ceremonies." 
At  the  census,  1901,  Raman uja  was  returned  as  a 
sub-caste  of  Satani.  In  the  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot 
district,  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  describes  the  Satanis  as  "a 
mixed  religious  sect,  recruited  from  time  to  time  from 
other  castes,  excepting  Paraiyans,  leather-workers,  and 
Muhammadans.  All  the  Satanis  are  Vaishnavites,  but 
principally  revere  Bashyakar  (another  name  for  Rama- 
nuja),  whom  they  assert  to  have  been  an  incarnation 
of  Vishnu.  The  Satanis  are  almost  entirely  confined  to 
the  large  towns.  Their  legitimate  occupations  are 
performing  menial  services  in  Vishnu  temples,  begging, 
tending  flower  gardens,  selling  flower  garlands,  making 
fans,  grinding  sandalwood  into  powder,  and  selling 
perfumes.  They  are  the  priests  of  some  Sudra  castes, 
and  in  this  character  correspond  to  the  Saivite 

In  the  Census  Report,  187 1,  the  Satanis  are  described 
as  being  **  frequently  religious  mendicants,  priests  of 
inferior  temples,  minstrels,  sellers  of  flowers  used  as 
offerings,  etc.,  and  have  probably  recruited  their  numbers 

SATANI  300 

by  the  admission  into  their  ranks  of  individuals  who 
have  been  excommunicated  from  higher  castes.  As  a 
matter  of  fact,  many  prostitutes  join  this  sect,  which 
has  a  recognised  position  among  the  Hindus.  This 
can  easily  be  done  by  the  payment  of  certain  fees,  and 
by  eating  in  company  with  their  co-religionists.  And 
they  thus  secure  for  themselves  decent  burial  with 
the  ceremonial  observances  necessary  to  ensure  rest  to 
the  soul." 

In  the  Mysore  Census  Report,  1891,  it  is  noted  that 
Satanis  are  also  styled  Khadri  Vaishnavas,  Sattadaval, 
Chatali,  Kulasekhara,  and  Sameraya.  These  names, 
however,  seem  to  have  pricked  their  amour  propre  in  the 
late  census,  and  they  took  considerable  pains  not  only  to 
cast  them  off,  but  also  to  enrol  themselves  as  Prapanna 
Vaishnavas,  Nambi,  Venkatapura  Vaishnavas,  etc.  The 
idea  of  being  tabulated  as  Sudras  was  so  hateful  to  them 
that,  in  a  few  places,  the  enumerators,  who  had  so  noted 
down  their  caste  according  to  precedent,  were  prosecuted 
by  them  for  defamation.  The  cases  were  of  course  thrown 
out.  Further,  the  Mysore  Census  Superintendent, 
1901,  writes  that  "the  sub-divisions  of  the  Satanis  are 
Khadri  Vaishnavas,  Natacharamurti,  Prathama  Vaish- 
nava,  Sameraya  or  Samogi,  Sankara,  Suri,  Sattadhava, 
Telugu  Satani,  and  Venkatapurada.  Some  are  employed 
m  agriculture,  but  as  a  rule  they  are  engaged  in  the 
service  of  Vishnu  temples,  and  are  flower-gatherers, 
torch-bearers,  and  strolling  minstrels." 

The  Satanis  are  also  called  Dasa  Nambis.  They  are 
flesh-eaters,  but  some  have  now  become  pure  vegetarians. 
There  are,  for  example,  at  Srivilliputtur  in  the  Tinnevelly 
district,  a  large  number  who  have  abandoned  a  meat 
dietary.  They  are  connected  with  the  temple  of  Andal, 
and  supply  flowers  and  tulsi  [Ocimum  sanctzim)  leaves 


for  worship,  carry  torches  before  the  goddess  during 
processions,  and  watch  the  gate  of  the  temple  during  the 
night.  The  small  income  which  they  derive  from  the 
temple  is  supplemented  by  the  manufacture  and  sale  of 
palmyra  leaf  baskets,  and  umbrellas  made  from  Pandanus 
leaves.  As  a  class,  the  Satanis  are  given  to  liquor,  and 
all  important  ceremonial  occasions  are  made  the  excuse 
for  copious  potations.  This  weakness  is  so  well  known 
that,  in  the  north  of  the  Presidency,  the  term  Ramanuja 
Matham  is  used  to  denote  the  consumption  of  meat  and 
drink  at  death  or  sradh  ceremonies,  just  as  Saivam 
signifies  vegetarianism.  The  Satani  mendicant  can  be 
recognised  by  the  peculiar  flat  gourd-shaped  brass  pot 
and  palm  leaf  fan  which  he  carries.  The  Satanis  claim 
to  have  sprung  from  the  sweat  of  Virat  Purusha  (lord 
of  the  universe).  The  following  legend  is  told,  as 
accounting  for  the  removal  of  the  kudumi  (tuft  of  hair 
on  the  head),  and  wearing  the  cloth  without  a  fold 
behind.  In  the  time  of  Ramanuja,  the  Satanis  enjoyed 
certain  privileges  in  the  temples,  but,  not  satisfied  with 
these,  they  claimed  to  take  rank  next  to  Brahmans. 
This  privilege  was  accorded,  and,  when  flowers  and 
other  things  used  in  the  worship  of  the  god  were  to 
be  distributed,  they  were  handed  over  to  the  Satanis. 
They,  however,  were  unable  to  decide  who  should 
be  deputed  to  represent  the  community,  each  person 
decrying  the  others  as  being  of  low  caste.  Ramanuja 
accordingly  directed  that  they  should  shave  their  heads, 
and  wear  their  loin-cloths  with  a  fold  in  front  only. 

In  addition  to  other  occupations  already  noted, 
Satanis  sell  turmeric,  coloured  powders,  and  sacred  balls 
of  white  clay  used  by  Vaishnavites.  Some  act  as  priests 
to  Balijas  and  Komatis,  at  whose  death  ceremonies  the 
presence  of  a  Satani   is   essential.     Immediately  after 

SATANI  302 

death,  the  Satani  is  summoned,  and  he  puts  sect  marks 
on  the  corpse.  At  the  grave,  cooked  food  is  offered, 
and  eaten  by  the  Satani  and  members  of  the  family  of 
the  deceased.  On  the  last  day  of  the  death  ceremonies 
(karmandiram),  the  Satani  comes  to  the  house  of  the 
dead  person  late  in  the  evening,  bringing  with  him 
certain  idols,  which  are  worshipped  with  offerings  of 
cooked  rice,  flesh,  and  liquor  in  jars.  The  food  is 
distributed  among  those  present,  and  the  liquor  is 
doled  out  from  a  spoon  called  parikam,  or  a  broom 
dipped  in  the  liquor,  which  is  drunk  as  it  drips 

Satani  women  dress  just  like  Vaishnava  Brahman 
women,  from  whom  it  is  difficult  to  distinguish  them. 
In  former  days,  the  Satanis  used  to  observe  a  festival 
called  ravikala  (bodice)  utchavam,  which  now  goes  by 
the  name  of  gandapodi  (sandal  powder)  utchavam.  The 
festival,  as  originally  carried  out,  was  a  very  obscene 
rite.  After  the  worship  of  the  god  by  throwing  sandal 
powder,  etc.,  the  Satanis  returned  home,  and  indulged 
in  copious  libations  of  liquor.  The  women  threw  their 
bodices  into  vessel,  and  they  were  picked  out  at  random 
by  the  men.  The  woman  whose  bodice  was  thus 
secured  became  the  partner  of  the  man  for  the  day. 

For  the  following  note  on  Satanis  in  the  Vizagapatam 
district)  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  C.  Hayavadana  Rao. 
Satani  is  said  to  be  the  shortened  form  of  Saththadavan, 
the  uncovered  man.  They  are  prohibited  from  covering 
three  different  parts  of  their  bodies,  viz.,  the  head  with 
the  usual  tuft  of  hair,  the  body  with  the  sacred  thread, 
and  the  waist  with  the  customary  strip  of  cloth.  All 
devout  Satanis  shave  their  heads  completely.  [There  is 
a  proverb  "Tie  a  knot  on  the  Satani's  tuft  of  hair,  and 
on  the^  ascetic's  holy  thread."     The  Satanis  shave  the 

303  SATANI 

whole  head,  and  the  Sanyasis  have  no  sacred  thread.]* 
The  caste  is  divided  into  exogamous  septs,  or  intiperulu. 
The  custom  of  menarikam,  according  to  which  a  man 
marries  his  maternal  uncle's  daughter,  is  observed.  The 
remarriage  of  widows  and  divorce  are  not  allowed. 
Attempts  have  been  made  by  some  members  of  the  caste, 
in  other  parts  of  the  Madras  Presidency,  to  connect 
themselves  with  Chaitanya.  But,  so  far  as  the  Vizaga- 
patam  district  is  concerned,  this  is  repudiated.  They 
are  Ramanuja  Vaishnavas  of  the  Tenkalai  persuasion. 
Their  gurus  are  known  as  Paravasthuvaru — a  corrup- 
tion of  Paravasu  Deva,  whose  figure  is  on  the  vimana  of 
the  Srirangam  temple,  and  who  must  be  visited  before 
entering  the  principal  sanctuary.  They  live  at  Gumsur  in 
Ganjam,  and  have  Sadacharulu,  or  ever-devout  followers, 
who  act  as  their  agents  in  Vizagapatam.  They  brand 
the  shoulders  of  Satanis  with  the  Vaishnavite  emblems, 
the  sankha  and  chakra,  and  initiate  them  into  the 
mysteries  of  the  Vaishnava  religion  by  whispering  into 
their  ears  the  word  Ramanuja.  The  Satani  learns  by 
heart  various  songs  in  eulogy  of  Srirangam  and  its  deity, 
by  means  of  which  he  earns  his  living.  He  rises  in 
the  early  morning,  and,  after  a  bath,  adorns  his  forehead 
and  body  with  the  Vaishnavite  namam,  ties  round  his 
clean-shaved  head  a  string  oftulsi  {Ocimum  sanctum) 
beads  known  as  thirupavithram,  puts  a  tulsi  garland 
round  his  neck,  and  takes  a  fan  called  gajakarnam,  or 
elephant's  ear,  in  his  right  hand.  In  his  left  hand  he 
carries  a  copper  gourd-shaped  vessel.  He  is  generally 
accompanied  by  another  Satani  similarly  got  up.  When 
begging,  they  sing  the  songs  referred  to  above,  and 
collect  the  rice  which  is  given  to  them  in  their  vessels. 

Rev.  H.  Jensen.     Classified  Collection  of  Tamil  Proverbs,  1897. 

SATHU  304 

At  the  end  of  their  round  they  return  home,  and  their 
wives  clean  the  rice,  bow  down  before  it,  and  cook  it. 
No  portion  of  the  rice  obtained  by  begging  should  be 
sold  for  money.  The  Satanis  play  an  important  part  in 
the  social  life  of  the  Vaishnavites  of  the  district,  and  are 
the  gurus  of  some  of  the  cultivating  and  other  classes. 
They  preside  at  the  final  death  ceremonies  of  the  non- 
Brahman  Vaishnavite  castes.  They  burn  their  dead, 
and  perform  the  chinna  (little)  and  pedda  rozu  (big  day) 
death  ceremonies. 

Sathu. — A  synonym,  meaning  a  company  of  mer- 
chants or  travellers,  of  Perike  and  Janappan. 

Saurashtra. — A  synonym  of  the  Patnulkarans, 
derived  from  the  Saurashtra  country,  whence  they  came 
southward.  They  also  style  themselves  Saurashtra 

Savalaikkaran.— A  Tamil  name  for  fishermen,  who 
fish  in  the  sea.  Savalai  or  saval  thadi  is  the  flattened 
paddle  used  for  rowing  boats.  The  Savalaikkarans  are 
more  akin  to  the  Pallis  or  Vanniyans  than  to  the  Sem- 
badavans.  Though  a  large  number  are  agriculturists, 
some  play  on  the  nagasaram  (reed  instrument).  In  the 
Tinnevelly  district,  where  Melakkarans  are  scarce,  the 
temple  musicians  are  either  Savalaikkarans  or  Panisa- 
vans.  The  agricultural  Savalaikkarans  use  the  title 
Padayachi,  and  the  musicians  the  title  Annavi.  Their 
marriages  last  three  days,  and  the  milk-post  is  made  of 
teak-wood.  Widow  remarriage  is  prohibited.  The  dead 
are  always  buried.  Socially  they  are  on  a  par  with  the 
Maravans,  with  whom  they  interdine. 

Savali.^A  synonym  of  Budubudike. 

Savantiya.— A  synonym  of  Samantiya. 

Savara.— The  Savaras,  Sawaras,  or  Saoras,  are  an 
important  hill-tribe  in  Ganjam  and  Vizagapatam.     The 

305  SAVARA 

name  is  derived  by  General  Cunningham  from  the 
Scythian  sagar,  an  axe,  in  reference  to  the  axe  which 
they  carry  in  their  hands.  In  Sanskrit,  sabara  or  savara 
means  a  mountaineer,  barbarian,  or  savage.  The  tribe 
has  been  identified  by  various  authorities  with  the  Suari  of 
Pliny  and  Sabarai  of  Ptolemy.  "Towards  the  Ganges," 
the  latter  writes,  "  are  the  Sabarai,  in  whose  country  the 
diamond  is  found  in  great  abundance."  This  diamond- 
producing  country  is  located  by  Cunningham  near  Sam- 
balpur  in  the  Central  Provinces.  In  one  of  his  grants, 
Nandivarma  Pallavamalla,  a  Pallava  king,  claims  to 
have  released  the  hostile  king  of  the  Sabaras,  Udayana 
by  name,  and  captured  his  mirror-banner  made  of  pea- 
cock's feathers.  The  Rev.  T.  Foulkes  *  identifies  the 
Sabaras  of  this  copper-plate  grant  with  the  Savaras  of  the 
eastern  ghats.  But  Dr.  E.  Hultzsch,  who  has  re-edited 
the  grant,  t  is  of  opinion  that  these  Sabaras  cannot  be 
identified  with  the  Savaras.  The  Aitareya  Brahmana  of 
the  Rig-veda  makes  the  Savaras  the  descendants  of  the 
sons  of  Visvamitra,  who  were  cursed  to  become  impure 
by  their  father  for  an  act  of  disobedience,  while  the 
Ramayana  describes  them  as  having  emanated  from  the 
body  of  Vasishta's  cow  to  fight  against  the  sage  Visvamitra. 
The  language  of  the  Savaras  is  included  by  Mr. 
G.  A.  GriersonJ  in  the  Munda  family.  It  has,  he  writes, 
**  been  largely  influenced  by  Telugu,  and  is  no  longer 
an  unmixed  form  of  speech.  It  is  most  closely  related 
to  Kharia  and  Juang,  but  in  some  characteristics  differs 
from  them,  and  agrees  with  the  various  dialects  of  the 
language  which  has  in  this  (linguistic)  survey  been 
described  under  the  denomination  of  Kherwari." 

•  Ind.  Ant.,  VIII,  1879. 

t  South  Indian  Inscriptions,  II,  Part  iii,  1895, 
X  Linguistic  Survey  of  India,  IV,  1906. 

SAVARA  306 

The  Savaras  are  described  by  Mr,  F.  Fawcett*  as 
being  much  more  industrious  than  the  Khonds, 
**  Many  a  time,"  he  writes,  "  have  I  tried  to  find  a  place 
for  an  extra  paddy  (rice)  field  might  be  made,  but  never 
with  success.  It  is  not  too  much  to  say  that  paddy  is 
grown  on  every  available  foot  of  arable  ground,  all  the 
hill  streams  being  utilized  for  this  purpose.  From  almost 
the  very  tops  of  the  hills,  in  fact  from  wherever  the 
springs  are,  there  are  paddy  fields ;  at  the  top  of  every 
small  area  a  few  square  yards,  the  front  perpendicular 
revetment  [of  large  masses  of  stones]  sometimes  as  large 
in  area  as  the  area  of  the  field  ;  and  larger  and  larger, 
down  the  hillside,  taking  every  advantage  of  every 
available  foot  of  ground  there  are  fields  below  fields  to 
the  bottoms  of  the  valleys.  The  Saoras  show  remark- 
able engineering  skill  in  constructing  their  paddy  fields, 
and  I  wish  I  could  do  it  justice.  They  seem  to  construct 
them  in  the  most  impossible  places,  and  certainly  at  the 
expense  of  great  labour.  Yet,  with  all  their  superior 
activity  and  industry,  the  Saoras  are  decidedly  physi- 
cally inferior  to  the  Khonds.  It  seems  hard  the  Saoras 
should  not  be  allowed  to  reap  the  benefit  of  their 
industry,  but  must  givehalf  of  it  to  the  parasitic  Bissoyis 
and  their  retainers.  The  greater  part  of  the  Saoras' 
hills  have  been  denuded  of  forest  owing  to  the  persistent 
hacking  down  of  trees  for  the  purpose  of  growing  dry 
crops,  so  much  so  that,  in  places,  the  hills  look  almost 
bare  in  the  dry  weather.  Nearly  all  the  jungle  (mostly 
sal,  Shorea  robustd)  is  cut  down  every  few  years.  When 
the  Saoras  want  to  work  a  piece  of  new  ground,  where 
the  jungle  has  been  allowed  to  grow  for  a  few  years, 
the  trees  are  cut  down,  and,  when  dry,  burned,  and  the 

Journ.  Anthrop.  Soc,  Bombay,  i,  1901. 

307  SAVARA 

ground  is  grubbed  up  by  the  women  with  a  kind  of  hoe. 
The  hoe  is  used  on  the  steep  hill  sides,  where  the 
ground  is  very  stony  and  rocky,  and  the  stumps  of  the 
felled  trees  are  numerous,  and  the  plough  cannot  be 
used.  In  the  paddy  fields,  or  on  any  flat  ground,  they 
use  ploughs  of  lighter  and  simpler  make  than  those  used 
in  the  plains.  They  use  cattle  for  ploughing."  It  is 
noted  by  Mr.  G.  V.  Ramamurti  Pantulu,  in  an  article 
on  the  Savaras,  that  "in  some  cases  the  Bissoyi,  who 
was  originally  a  feudatory  chief  under  the  authority 
of  the  zemindar,  and  in  other  cases  the  zemindar  claims 
a  fixed  rent  in  kind  or  cash,  or  both.  Subject  to  the 
rents  payable  to  the  Bissoyis,  the  Savaras  under  them 
are  said  to  exercise  their  right  to  sell  or  mortgage  their 
lands.  Below  the  ghats,  in  the  plains,  the  Savara  has 
lost  his  right,  and  the  mustajars  or  the  renters  to  whom 
the  Savara  villages  are  farmed  out  take  half  of  whatever 
crops  are  raised  by  the  Savaras."  Mr.  Ramamurti 
states  further  that  a  new-comer  should  obtain  the 
permission  of  the  Gomongo  (headman)  and  the  Boya 
before  he  can  reclaim  any  jungle  land,  and  that,  at  the 
time  of  sale  or  mortgage,  the  village  elders  should  be 
present,  and  partake  of  the  flesh  of  the  pig  sacrificed  on 
the  occasion.  In  some  places,  the  Savaras  are  said  to 
be  entirely  in  the  power  of  Paidi  settlers  from  the  plains, 
who  seize  their  entire  produce  on  the  plea  of  debts  con- 
tracted at  a  usurious  rate  of  interests.  In  recent  years, 
some  Savaras  emigrated  to  Assam  to  work  in  the  tea- 
gardens.     But  emigration  has  now  stopped  by  edict. 

The  sub-divisions  among  the  Savaras,  which,  so  far 
as  I  can  gather,  are  recognised,  are  as  follows  : — 

A. — Hill  Savaras. 
(i)  Savara,  Jati  Savara  (Savaras  par  excellence), 
or  Maliah  Savara.     They  regard  themselves  as  superior 

VI— 20  B 

SAVARA  308 

to  the  other  divisions.     They  will  eat  the  flesh  of  the 
buffalo,  but  not  of  the  cow. 

(2)  Arsi,  Arisi,  or  Lombo  Lanjiya.  Arsi  means 
monkey,  and  Lombo  Lanjiya,  indicating  long-tailed,  is 
the  name  by  which  members  of  this  section  are  called, 
in  reference  to  the  long  piece  of  cloth,  which  the  males 
allow  to  hang  down.  The  occupation  is  said  to  be 
weaving  the  coarse  cloths  worn  by  members  of  the  tribe, 
as  well  as  agriculture. 

(3)  Luara  or  Muli.  Workers  in  iron,  who  make 
arrow  heads,  and  other  articles. 

(4)  Kindal.  Basket-makers,  who  manufacture 
rough  baskets  for  holding  grain. 

(5)  Jadn.  Said  to  be  a  name  among  the  Savaras 
for  the  hill  country  beyond  Kollakota  and  Puttasingi. 

(6)  Kumbi.  Potters  who  make  earthen  pots. 
"These  pots,"  Mr.  Fawcett  writes,  "are  made  in  a  few 
villages  in  the  Saora  hills.  Earthen  vessels  are  used 
for  cooking,  or  for  hanging  up  in  houses  as  fetishes  of 
ancestral  spirits  or  certain  deities." 

B. — Savaras  of  the  low  country. 

(7)  Kapu  (denoting  cultivator),  or  Pallapu. 

(8)  Suddho  (good). 

It  has  been  noted  that  the  pure  Savara  tribes  have 
restricted  themselves  to  the  tracts  of  hill  and  jungle- 
covered  valleys.  But,  as  the  plains  are  approached, 
traces  of  amalgamation  become  apparent,  resulting  in 
a  hybrid  race,  whose  appearance  and  manners  differ  but 
little  from  those  of  the  ordinary  denizens  of  the  low 
country.  The  Kapu  Savaras  are  said  to  retain  many  of 
the  Savara  customs,  whereas  the  Suddho  Savaras  have 
adopted  the  language  and  customs  of  the  Oriya  castes. 
The  Kapu  section  is  sometimes  called  Kudunga  or 
Baseng,  and  the  latter  name  is  said  by  Mr.  Ramamurti 

309  SAVARA 

to  be  derived  from  the  Savara  word  basi,  salt.  It  is,  he 
states,  applied  to  the  plains  below  the  ghats,  as,  in  the 
fairs  held  there,  salt  is  purchased  by  the  Savaras  of  the 
hills,  and  the  name  is  used  to  designate  the  Savaras 
living  there.  A  class  name  Kampu  is  referred  to  by 
Mr.  Ramamurti,  who  says  that  the  name  "  implies  that 
the  Savaras  of  this  class  have  adopted  the  customs 
of  the  Hindu  Kampus  (Oriya  for  Kapu).  Kudumba  is 
another  name  by  which  they  are  known,  but  it  is  reported 
that  there  is  a  sub-division  of  them  called  by  this  name." 
He  further  refers  to  Bobbili  and  Bhima  as  the  names  of 
distinct  sub-divisions.  Bobbili  is  a  town  in  the  Vizaga- 
patam  district,  and  Bhima  was  the  second  of  the  five 
Pandava  brothers. 

In  an  account  of  the  Maliya  Savarulu,  published 
in  the  '  Catalogue  Raisonn6  of  Oriental  Manuscripts,'  * 
it  is  recorded  that  "  they  build  houses  over  mountain 
torrents,  previously  throwing  trees  across  the  chasms  ; 
and  these  houses  are  in  the  midst  of  forests  of  fifty 
or  more  miles  in  extent.  The  reason  of  choosing  such 
situations  is  stated  to  be  in  order  that  they  may  more 
readily  escape  by  passing  underneath  their  houses,  and 
through  the  defile,  in  the  event  of  any  disagreement 
and  hostile  attack  in  reference  to  other  rulers  or  neigh- 
bours. They  cultivate  independently,  and  pay  tax  or 
tribute  to  no  one.  If  the  zemindar  of  the  neighbour- 
hood troubles  them  for  tribute,  they  go  in  a  body  to  his 
house  by  night,  set  it  on  fire,  plunder,  and  kill ;  and 
then  retreat,  with  their  entire  households,  into  the  wilds 
and  fastnesses.  They  do  in  like  manner  with  any  of 
the  zemindar's  subordinates,  if  troublesome  to  them.  If 
they  are  courted,  and  a  compact  is  made  with  them, 

•  The  Rev.  W.  Taylor,  Vol.  Ill,  1862. 

SAVARA  310 

they  will  then  abstain  from  any  wrong  or  disturbance. 
If  the  zemindar,  unable  to  bear  with  them,  raise  troops 
and  proceed  to  destroy  their  houses,  they  escape  under- 
neath by  a  private  way,  as  above  mentioned.  The 
invaders  usually  burn  the  houses,  and  retire.  If  the 
zemindar  forego  his  demands,  and  make  an  agreement 
with  them,  they  rebuild  their  houses  in  the  same 
situations,  and  then  render  assistance  to  him." 

The  modern  Savara  settlement  is  described  by  Mr. 
Fawcett  as  having  two  rows  of  huts  parallel  and  facing 
each  other.  "Huts,"  he  writes,  "are  generally  built 
of  upright  pieces  of  wood  stuck  in  the  ground,  6  or 
8  inches  apart,  and  the  intervals  filled  in  with  stones 
and  mud  laid  alternately,  and  the  whole  plastered  over 
with  red  mud.  Huts  are  invariably  built  a  few  feet 
above  the  level  of  the  ground,  often,  when  the  ground  is 
very  uneven,  5  feet  above  the  ground  in  front.  Roofs 
are  always  thatched  with  grass.  There  is  usually  but 
one  door,  near  one  end  wall  ;  no  windows  or  ventilators, 
every  chink  being  filled  up.  In  front  of  the  doorway 
there  is  room  for  six  or  eight  people  to  stand,  and  there 
is  a  loft,  made  by  cross-beams,  about  5  feet  from  the 
floor,  on  which  grain  is  stored  in  baskets,  and  under 
which  the  inmates  crawl  to  do  their  cooking.  Bits  of 
sun-dried  buffalo  meat  and  bones,  not  smelling  over- 
sweet,  are  suspended  from  the  rafters,  or  here  and  there 
stuck  in  between  the  rafters  and  the  thatch  ;  knives, 
a  tangi  (battle-axe),  a  sword,  and  bows  and  arrows  may 
also  be  seen  stuck  in  somewhere  under  the  thatch. 
Agricultural  implements  may  be  seen,  too,  small  ones 
stuck  under  the  roof  or  on  the  loft,  and  larger  ones 
against  the  wall.  As  in  Ireland,  the  pig  is  of  sufficient 
importance  to  have  a  room  in  the  house.  There  is 
generally  merely  a  low  wall  between  the  pig's  room  and 

311  SAVARA 

the  rest  of  the  house,  and  a  separate  door,  so  that  It  may- 
go  in  and  out  without  going  through  that  part  of  the 
house  occupied  by  the  family.  Rude  drawings  are 
very  common  in  Saora  houses.  They  are  invariably,  if 
not  always,  in  some  way  that  I  could  never  clearly  appre- 
hend, connected  with  one  of  the  fetishes  in  the  house." 
"  When,"  Mr.  Ramamurti  writes,  "  a  tiger  enters  a 
cottage  and  carries  away  an  inmate,  the  villages  are 
deserted,  and  sacrifices  are  offered  to  some  spirits  by 
all  the  inhabitants.  The  prevalence  of  small-pox  in 
a  village  requires  its  abandonment.  A  succession  of 
calamities  leads  to  the  same  result.  If  a  Savara  has 
a  number  of  wives,  each  of  them  sometimes  requires 
a  separate  house,  and  the  house  sites  are  frequently 
shifted  according  to  the  caprice  of  the  women.  The 
death  or  disease  of  cattle  is  occasionally  followed  by  the 
desertion  of  the  house." 

When  selecting  a  site  for  a  new  dwelling  hut,  the 
Maliah  Savaras  place  on  the  proposed  site  as  many 
grains  of  rice  in  pairs  as  there  are  married  members  in 
the  family,  and  cover  them  over  with  a  cocoanut  shell. 
They  are  examined  on  the  following  day,  and,  if  they 
are  all  there,  the  site  is  considered  auspicious.  Among 
the  Kapu  Savaras,  the  grains  of  rice  are  folded  up  in 
leaflets  of  the  bael  tree  {y^gle  Marmelos),  and  placed  in 
split  bamboo. 

It  is  recorded  by  Mr.  Fawcett,  in  connection  with 
the  use  of  the  duodecimal  system  by  the  Savaras  that, 
"  on  asking  a  Gomango  how  he  reckoned  when  selling 
produce  to  the  Panos,  he  began  to  count  on  his  fingers. 
In  order  to  count  20,  he  began  on  the  left  foot  (he  was 
squatting),  and  counted  5  ;  then  with  the  left  hand  5  more; 
then  with  the  two  first  fingers  of  the  right  hand  he  made 
2  more,  i.e.,  12  altogether;  then  with  the  thumb  of  the 

SAVARA  3 1 2 

right  hand  and  the  other  two  fingers  of  the  same,  and  the 
toes  of  the  right  foot  he  made  8  more.  And  so  it  was 
always.  They  have  names  for  numerals  up  to  12  only, 
and  to  count  20  always  count  first  twelve  and  then  eight 
in  the  manner  described,  except  that  they  may  begin  on 
either  hand  or  foot.  To  count  50  or  60,  they  count  by 
twenties,  and  put  down  a  stone  or  some  mark  for  each 
twenty.  There  is  a  Saora  story  accounting  for  their 
numerals  being  limited  to  12.  One  day,  long  ago,  some 
Saoras  were  measuring  grain  in  a  field,  and,  when  they 
had  measured  1 2  measures  of  some  kind,  a  tiger  pounced 
in  on  them  and  devoured  them.  So,  ever  after,  they  dare 
not  have  a  numeral  above  12,  for  fear  of  a  tiger  repeating 
the  performance." 

The  Savaras  are  described  by  Mr.  Fawcett  as  "  below 
the  middle  height ;  face  rather  flat ;  lips  thick ;  nose 
broad  and  flat ;  cheek  bones  high  ;  eyes  slightly  oblique. 
They  are  as  fair  as  the  Uriyas,  and  fairer  than  the  Telu- 
gus  of  the  plains.  Not  only  is  the  Saora  shorter  and 
fairer  than  other  hill  people,  but  his  face  is  distinctly 
Mongolian,  the  obliquity  of  the  eyes  being  sometimes  very 
marked,  and  the  inner  corners  of  the  eyes  are  generally 
very  oblique.  [The  Mongolian  type  is  clearly  brought 
out  in  the  illustration.]  The  Saora's  endurance  in  going 
up  and  down  hill,  whether  carrying  heavy  loads  or  not, 
is  wonderful.  Four  Saoras  have  been  known  to  carry  a 
lo-stone  man  in  a  chair  straight  up  a  3,800  feet  hill 
without  relief,  and  without  rest.  Usually,  the  Saora's 
dress  (his  full  dress)  consists  of  a  large  bunch  of  feathers 
(generally  white)  stuck  in  his  hair  on  the  crown  of  his 
head,  a  coloured  cloth  round  his  head  as  a  turban, 
and  worn  much  on  the  back  of  the  head,  and  folded 
tightly,  so  as  to  be  a  good  protection  to  the  head. 
When  feathers  are  not  worn,  the  hair  is  tied  on  the  top 

S  A  VARA. 

313  SAVARA 

of  the  head,  or  a  little  at  the  side  of  it.  A  piece  of  flat 
brass  is  another  head  ornament.  It  is  stuck  in  the  hair, 
which  is  tied  in  a  knot  at  the  crown  of  the  head,  at 
an  angle  of  about  40°  from  the  perpendicular,  and  its 
waving  up  and  down  motion  as  a  man  walks  has  a 
curious  effect.  Another  head  ornament  is  a  piece  of 
wood,  about  8  or  9  inches  in  length  and  f  inch  in 
diameter,  with  a  flat  button  about  2  inches  in  diameter 
on  the  top,  all  covered  with  hair  or  coloured  thread, 
and  worn  in  the  same  position  as  the  flat  piece  of 
brass.  A  peacock's  feather,  or  one  or  two  of  the  tail 
feathers  of  the  jungle  cock,  may  be  often  seen  stuck  in 
the  knot  of  hair  on  the  top  of  the  head.  A  cheroot 
or  two,  perhaps  half  smoked,  may  often  be  seen  stick- 
ing in  the  hair  of  a  man  or  woman,  to  be  used  again 
when  wanted.  They  also  smoke  pipes,  and  the  old 
women  seem  particularly  fond  of  them.  Round  the 
Saora's  neck  are  brass  and  bead  necklaces.  A  man  will 
wear  as  many  as  thirty  necklaces  at  a  time,  or  rather 
necklaces  of  various  lengths  passed  as  many  as  thirty 
times  round  his  neck.  Round  the  Saora's  waist,  and 
under  his  fork,  is  tied  a  cloth  with  coloured  ends  hanging 
in  front  and  behind.  When  a  cloth  on  the  body  is  worn, 
it  is  usually  worn  crossed  in  front.  The  women  wear 
necklaces  like  the  men.  Their  hair  is  tied  at  the  back 
of  the  head,  and  is  sometimes  confined  with  a  fillet. 
They  wear  only  one  cloth,  tied  round  the  waist.  During 
feasts,  or  when  dancing,  they  generally  wear  a  cloth  over 
the  shoulders.  Every  male  wears  a  small  ring,  generally 
of  silver,  in  the  right  nostril,  and  every  female  wears  a 
similar  ring  in  each  nostril,  and  in  the  septum.  As  I 
have  been  told,  these  rings  are  put  in  the  nose  on  the 
eighth  or  tenth  day  after  birth.  Bangles  are  often  worn 
by  men  and  women.     Anklets,  too,  are  sometimes  worn 

SAVARA  314 

by  the  women.  Brass  necklets  and  many  other  orna- 
ments are  made  in  Saora  hills  by  the  Gangsis,  a  low 
tribe  of  workers  in  brass.  The  Saora's  weapons  are  the 
bow,  sometimes  ornamented  with  peacock's  feathers, 
sword,  dagger,  and  tangi.  The  bow  used  by  the  Saoras 
is  much  smaller  than  the  bow  used  by  any  of  the  other 
hill  people.  It  is  generally  about  3J  feet  long,  and  the 
arrows  from  18  to  21  inches.  The  bow  is  always  made 
of  bamboo,  and  so  is  the  string.  The  arrows  are  reeds 
tipped  with  iron,  and  leathered  on  two  sides  only.  A 
blunt-headed  arrow  is  used  for  shooting  birds.  Every 
Saora  can  use  the  bow  from  boyhood,  and  can  shoot 
straight  up  to  25  or  30  yards." 

As  regards  the  marriage  customs  of  the  Savaras, 
Mr.  Fawcett  writes  that  "a  Saora  may  marry  a  woman 
of  his  own  or  of  any  other  village.  A  man  may  have  as 
many  as  three  wives,  or,  if  he  is  a  man  of  importance, 
such  as  Gomango  of  a  large  village,  he  may  have  four. 
Not  that  there  is  any  law  in  the  matter,  but  it  is  consi- 
dered that  three,  or  at  most  four,  are  as  many  as  a  man 
can  manage.  For  his  first  marriage,  a  man  chooses 
a  young  woman  he  fancies ;  his  other  wives  are  perhaps 
her  sisters,  or  other  women  who  have  come  to  him. 
A  woman  may  leave  her  husband  whenever  she  pleases. 
Her  husband  cannot  prevent  her.  When  a  woman 
leaves  her  husband  to  join  herself  to  another,  the  other 
pays  the  husband  she  has  left  a  buffalo  and  a  pig. 
Formerly,  it  is  said,  if  he  did  not  pay  up,  the  man  she 
left  would  kill  the  man  to  whom  she  went.  Now  arbi- 
tration comes  into  play.  I  believe  a  man  usually  takes 
a  second  wife  after  his  first  has  had  a  child  ;  if  he  did  so 
before,  the  first  wife  would  say  he  was  impotent.  As 
the  eettinsf  of  the  first  wife  is  more  troublesome  and 
expensive  than  getting  the  others,   she  is  treated  the 


3^5  SAVARA 

best.  In  some  places,  all  a  man's  wives  are  said  to  live 
together  peaceably.  It  is  not  the  custom  in  the  Kolakotta 
villages.  Knowing  the  wives  would  fight  if  together, 
domestic  felicity  is  maintained  by  keeping  up  different 
establishments.  A  man's  wives  will  visit  one  another 
in  the  daytime,  but  one  wife  will  never  spend  the  night 
in  the  house  of  another.  An  exception  to  this  is  that 
the  first  wife  may  invite  one  of  the  other  wives  to  sleep 
in  her  house  with  the  husband.  As  each  wife  has  her 
separate  house,  so  has  she  her  separate  piece  of  ground 
on  the  hill-side  to  cultivate.  The  wives  will  not  co- 
operate in  working  each  other's  cultivation,  but  they  will 
work  together,  with  the  husband,  in  the  paddy  fields. 
Each  wife  keeps  the  produce  of  the  ground  she  cultivates 
in  her  own  house.  Produce  of  the  paddy  fields  is  divided 
into  equal  shares  among  the  wives.  If  a  wife  will  not 
work  properly,  or  if  she  gives  away  anything  belonging 
to  her  husband,  she  may  be  divorced.  Any  man  may 
marry  a  divorced  woman,  but  she  must  pay  to  her  former 
husband  a  buffalo  and  a  pig.  If  a  man  catches  his  wife 
in  adultery  (he  must  see  her  in  the  act),  he  thinks  he  has 
a  right  to  kill  her,  and  her  lover  too.  But  this  is  now 
generally  (but  not  always)  settled  by  arbitration,  and  the 
lover  pays  up.  A  wife  caught  in  adultery  will  never  be 
retained  as  a  wife.  As  any  man  may  have  as  many  as 
three  wives,  illicit  attachments  are  common.  During 
large  feasts,  when  the  Saoras  give  themselves  up  to 
sensuality,  there  is  no  doubt  a  great  deal  of  promiscuous 
intercourse.  A  widow  is  considered  bound  to  marry 
her  husband's  brother,  or  his  brother's  sons  if  he  has 
no  younger  brothers.  A  number  of  Saoras  once  came 
to  me  to  settle  a  dispute.  They  were  in  their  full  dress, 
with  feathers  and  weapons.  The  dispute  was  this.  A 
young  woman's  husband   was  dead,    and   his  younger 

S AVAR A  316 

brother  was  almost  of  an  age  to  take  her  to  wife.  She 
had  fixed  her  affections  on  a  man  of  another  village,  and 
made  up  her  mind  to  have  him  and  no  one  else.  Her 
village  people  wanted  compensation  in  the  shape  of  a 
buffalo,  and  also  wanted  her  ornaments.  The  men  of 
the  other  village  said  no,  they  could  not  give  a  buffalo. 
Well,  they  should  give  a  pig  at  least — no,  they  had  no 
pig.  Then  they  must  give  some  equivalent.  They 
would  give  one  rupee.  That  was  not  enough — at  least 
three  rupees.  They  were  trying  to  carry  the  young 
woman  off  by  force  to  make  her  marry  her  brother-in- 
law,  but  were  induced  to  accept  the  rupee,  and  have  the 
matter  settled  by  their  respective  Bissoyis.  The  young 
woman  was  most  obstinate,  and  insisted  on  having  her 
own  choice,  and  keeping  her  ornaments.  Her  village 
people  had  no  objection  to  her  choice,  provided  the  usual 
compensation  was  paid. 

**  In  one  far  out-of-the-way  village  the  marriage 
ceremony  consists  in  this.  The  bride's  father  is  plied 
with  liquor  two  or  three  times  ;  a  feast  is  made  in  the 
bridegroom's  house,  to  which  the  bride  comes  with  her 
father ;  and  after  the  feast  she  remains  in  the  man's 
house  as  his  wife.  They  know  nothing  of  capture.  In 
the  Kolakotta  valley,  below  this  village,  a  different 
custom  prevails.  The  following  is  an  account  of  a  Saora 
marriage  as  given  by  the  Gomango  of  one  of  the  Kola- 
kotta villages,  and  it  may  be  taken  as  representative  of 
the  purest  Saora  marriage  ceremony.  *  I  wished  to 
marry  a  certain  girl,  and,  with  my  brother  and  his  son, 
went  to  her  house.  I  carried  a  pot  of  liquor,  and 
arrow,  and  one  brass  bangle  for  the  girl's  mother. 
Arrived  at  the  house,  I  put  the  liquor  and  the  arrow 
on  the  floor.  I  and  the  two  with  me  drartk  the  liquor — 
no    one   else   had   any.      The  father  of   the  girl   said 

3 I 7  SAVARA 

*  Why  have  you  brought  the  liquor  ?  '  I  said  '  Because 
I  want  your  daughter.'  He  said  '  Bring  a  big  pot  of 
liquor,  and  we  will  talk  about  it. '  I  took  the  arrow 
I  brought  with  mc,  and  stuck  it  in  the  thatch  of  the  roof 
just  above  the  wall,  took  up  the  empty  pot,  and  went 
home  with  those  who  came  with  me.  Four  days 
afterwards,  with  the  same  two  and  three  others  of  my 
village,  I  went  to  the  girl's  father's  house  with  a  big 
pot  of  liquor.  About  fifteen  or  twenty  people  of  the 
village  were  present.  The  father  said  he  would  not  give 
the  girl,  and,  saying  so,  he  smashed  the  pot  of  liquor, 
and,  with  those  of  his  village,  beat  us  so  that  we  ran 
back  to  our  village.  I  was  glad  of  the  beating,  as  I 
know  by  it  I  was  pretty  sure  of  success.  About  ten  days 
afterwards,  ten  or  twenty  of  my  village  people  went  with 
me  again,  carrying  five  pots  of  liquor,  which  we  put  in 
the  girl's  father's  house.  I  carried  an  arrow,  which  I 
stuck  in  the  thatch  beside  the  first  one.  The  father  and 
the  girl's  nearest  male  relative  each  took  one  of  the 
arrows  I  had  put  in  the  thatch,  and,  holding  them  in 
their  left  hands,  drank  some  of  the  liquor.  I  now  felt 
sure  of  success.  I  then  put  two  more  arrows  in  the 
father's  left  hand,  holding  them  in  his  hand  with  both  of 
my  hands  over  his,  and  asked  him  to  drink.  Two  fresh 
arrows  were  likewise  placed  in  the  left  hands  of  all  the 
girl's  male  relatives,  while  I  asked  them  to  drink.  To 
each  female  relative  of  the  girl  I  gave  a  brass  bangle, 
which  I  put  on  their  right  wrists  while  I  asked  them  to 
drink.  The  five  pots  of  liquor  were  drunk  by  the  girl's 
male  and  female  relations,  and  the  villagers.  When  the 
liquor  was  all  drunk,  the  girl's  father  said  '  Come  again 
in  a  month,  and  bring  more  liquor.'  In  a  month  I  went 
again,  with  all  the  people  of  my  village,  men,  women  and 
children,  dancing  as  we  went  (to  music  of  course),  taking 

SAVARA  318 

with  us  thirty  pots  of  liquor,  and  a  little  rice  and  a  cloth 
for  the  girl's  mother  ;  also  some  hill  dholl  (pulse),  which 
we  put  in  the  father's  house.     The  liquor  was  set  down 
in  the  middle  of  the  village,  and  the  villagers,  and  those 
who  came  with  me,  drank  the  liquor  and  danced.     The 
girl  did  not  join  in  this  ;  she  was  in  the  house.     When  the 
liquor  was  finished,  my  village  people  went  home,  but  I 
remained  In  the  father's  house.     For  three  days  I  stayed, 
and  helped  him  to  work  in  his  fields.     I  did  not  sleep 
with  the  girl ;  the  father  and  I  slept  in  one  part  of  the 
house,  and  the  girl  and  her  mother  in  another.     At  the 
end  of  the  three  days  I   went  home.     About  ten  days 
afterwards,  I,  with  about  ten  men  of  my  village,  went  to 
watch  for  the  girl  going  to  the  stream  for  water.     When 
we  saw  her,  we  caught  her,  and  ran  away  with  her.     She 
cried  out  and  the  people  of  her  village  came  after  us, 
and  fought  with  us.     We  got  her  off  to  my  village,  and 
she  remained  with  me  as  my  wife.     After  she  became  my 
wife,  her  mother  gave  her  a  cloth  and  a  bangle.    The  same 
individual  said  that,  if  a  man  wants  a  girl,  and  cannot 
afford  to  give  the  liquor,  etc.,  to  her  people,  he  takes  her 
off  by  force.     If  she  likes  him,  she  remains,  but,  if  not, 
she  runs  home.     He  will  carry  her  off  three  times,  but 
not  oftener ;  and,  if  after  the  third  time  she  again  runs 
away,  he  leaves  her.     The  Saoras  themselves  say  that  for- 
merly every  one  took  his  wife  by  force."     In  a  case  which 
occurred  a  few  years  ago,  a  bridegroom  did  not  comply 
with  the  usual  custom  of  giving  a  feast  to  the  bride's 
people,  and  the  bride's  mother  objected  to  the  marriage  on 
that  account.     The  bridegroom's  party,   however,  man- 
aged to  carry  off  the  bride.     Her  mother  raised  an  alarm, 
whereon  a  number  of  people  ran  up,  and  tried  to  stop  the 
bridegroom's  party.     They  were  outnumbered,  and  one 
was  knocked  down,  and  died  from  rupture  of  the  spleen. 

319  SAVARA 

A  further  account  of  the  Saora  marriage  customs  is 
given  by  Mr.  Ramamurti  Pantulu,  who  writes  as  follows. 
"  When  the  parents  of  a  young  man  consider  it  time  to 
seek  a  bride  for  him,  they  make  enquiries  and  even 
consult  their  relatives  and  friends  as  to  a  suitable  girl 
for  him.  The  girl's  parents  are  informally  apprised  of 
their  selection.  On  a  certain  day,  the  male  relatives  of 
the  youth  go  to  the  girl's  house  to  make  a  proposal  of 
marriage.  Her  parents,  having  received  previous  notice 
of  the  visit,  have  the  door  of  the  house  open  or  closed, 
according  as  they  approve  or  disapprove  of  the  match. 
On  arrival  at  the  house,  the  visitors  knock  at  the  door, 
and,  if  it  is  open,  enter  without  further  ceremony. 
Sometimes  the  door  is  broken  open.  If  the  girl's  parents 
object  to  the  match,  they  remain  silent,  and  will  not 
touch  the  liquor  brought  by  the  visitors,  and  they  go 
away.  Should,  however,  they  regard  it  with  favour,  they 
charge  the  visitors  with  intruding,  shower  abuse  on  them, 
and  beat  them,  it  may  be,  so  severely  that  wounds  are 
inflicted,  and  blood  is  shed.  This  ill-treatment  is  borne 
cheerfully,  and  without  resistance,  as  it  is  a  sign  that  the 
girl's  hand  will  be  bestowed  on  the  young  man.  The 
liquor  is  then  placed  on  the  floor,  and,  after  more  abuse, 
all  present  partake  thereof.  If  the  girl's  parents  refuse 
to  give  her  in  marriage  after  the  performance  of  this 
ceremony,  they  have  to  pay  a  penalty  to  the  parents  of 
the  disappointed  suitor.  Two  or  three  days  later,  the 
young  man's  relatives  go  a  second  time  to  the  girl's 
house,  taking  with  them  three  pots  of  liquor,  and  a 
bundle  composed  of  as  many  arrows  as  there  are  male 
members  in  the  girl's  family.  The  liquor  is  drunk,  and 
the  arrows  are  presented,  one  to  each  male.  After  an 
interval  of  some  days,  a  third  visit  is  paid,  and  three 
pots  of  liquor  smeared  with  turmeric  paste,  and  a  quantity 

S A VARA  320 

of  turmeric,  are  taken  to  the  house.  The  liquor  is 
drunk,  and  the  turmeric  paste  is  smeared  over  the  back 
and  haunches  of  the  girl's  relatives.  Some  time  after- 
wards, the  marriage  ceremony  takes  place.  The 
bridegroom's  party  proceed  to  the  house  of  the  bride, 
dancing  and  singing  to  the  accompaniment  of  all  the 
musical  instruments  except  the  drum,  which  is  only 
played  at  funerals.  With  them  they  take  twenty  big 
pots  of  liquor,  a  pair  of  brass  bangles  and  a  cloth  for  the 
bride's  mother,  and  head  cloths  for  the  father,  brothers, 
and  other  male  relatives.  When  everything  is  ready, 
the  priest  is  called  in.  One  of  the  twenty  pots  is  deco- 
rated, and  an  arrow  is  fixed  in  the  ground  at  its  side. 
The  priest  then  repeats  prayers  to  the  invisible  spirits 
and  ancestors,  and  pours  some  of  the  liquor  into  leaf- 
cups  prepared  in  the  names  of  the  ancestors  [Jojonji  and 
Yoyonji,  male  and  female],  and  the  chiefs  of  the  village. 
This  liquor  is  considered  very  sacred,  and  is  sprinkled 
from  a  leaf  over  the  shoulders  and  feet  of  the  elders 
present.  The  father  cf  the  bride,  addressing  the  priest, 
says  *  B5ya,  I  have  drunk  the  liquor  brought  by  the 
bridegroom's  father,  and  thereby  have  accepted  his 
proposal  for  a  marriage  between  his  son  and  my  daughter. 
I  do  not  know  whether  the  girl  will  afterwards  agree  to 
go  to  her  husband,  or  not.  Therefore  it  is  well  that  you 
should  ask  her  openly  to  speak  out  her  mind.'  The 
priest  accordingly  asks  the  girl  if  she  has  any  objection, 
and  she  replies  '  My  father  and  mother,  and  all  my 
relatives  have  drunk  the  bridegroom's  liquor.  I  am  a 
Savara,  and  he  is  a  Savara.  Why  then  should  I  not 
marry  him  } '  Then  all  the  people  assembled  proclaim 
that  the  pair  are  husband  and  wife.  This  done,  the 
big  pot  of  liquor,  which  has  been  set  apart  from  the 
rest,  is  taken  into  the  bride's  house.     This  pot,  with 


321  SAVARA 

another  pot  of  liquor  purchased  at  the  expense  of  the 
bride's  father,  is  given  to  the  bridegroom's  party  when 
it  retires.  Every  house-holder  receives  the  bridegroom 
and  his  party  at  his  house,  and  offers  them  liquor,  rice, 
and  flesh,  which  they  cannot  refuse  to  partake  of 
without  giving  offence." 

"Whoever,"  Mr.  Ramamurti  continues,  "  marries  a 
widow,  whether  it  is  her  husband's  younger  brother  or 
some  one  of  her  own  choice,  must  perform  a  religious 
ceremony,  during  which  a  pig  is  sacrificed.  The  flesh, 
with  some  liquor,  is  offered  to  the  ghost  of  the  widow's 
deceased  husband,  and  prayers  are  addressed  by  the 
Boyas  to  propitiate  the  ghost,  so  that  it  may  not  torment 
the  woman  and  her  second  husband.  *  Oh !  man,'  says 
the  priest,  addressing  the  deceased  by  name,  '  Here  is  an 
animal  sacrificed  to  you,  and  with  this  all  connection 
between  this  woman  and  you  ceases.  She  has  taken 
with  her  no  property  belonging  to  you  or  your  children. 
So  do  not  torment  her  within  the  house  or  outside  the 
house,  in  the  jungle  or  on  the  hill,  when  she  is  asleep  or 
when  she  wakes.  Do  not  send  sickness  on  her  children. 
Her  second  husband  has  done  no  harm  to  you.  She 
chose  him  for  her  husband,  and  he  consented.  Oh!  man, 
be  appeased  ;  Oh  !  unseen  ones  ;  Oh  !  ancestors,  be  you 
witnesses.'  The  animal  sacrificed  on  this  occasion  is 
called  long  danda  (inside  fine),  or  fine  paid  to  the  spirit 
of  a  dead  person  inside  the  earth.  The  animal  offered 
up,  when  a  man  marries  a  divorced  woman,  is  called 
bayar  danda  (outside  fine),  or  fine  paid  as  compensation 
to  a  man  living  outside  the  earth.  The  moment  that 
a  divorcee  marries  another  man,  her  former  husband 
pounces  upon  him,  shoots  his  buffalo  or  pig  dead  with 
an  arrow,  and  takes  it  to  his  village,  where  its  flesh  is 
served  up  at  a  feast.     The   Boya  invokes  the  unseen 


SAVARA  322 

spirits,  that  they  may  not  be  angry  with  the  man  who 
has  married  the  woman,  as  he  has  paid  the  penalty 
prescribed  by  the  elders  according  to  the  immemorial 
custom  of  the  Savaras. 

From  a  still  further  account  of  the  ceremonial  obser- 
vances in  connection  with  marriage,  with  variations, 
I  gather  that  the  liquor  is  the  fermented  juice  of  the 
Salop  or  sago  palm  ( Caryota  zirens),  and  is  called  ara-sal. 
On  arrival  at  the  girl's  house,  on  the  first  occasion,  the 
young  man's  party  sit  at  the  door  thereof,  and,  making 
three  cups  from  the  leaves  kiredol  {Uncaria  Gambler)  or 
jak  {ArtocarpMS  integrifolia),  pour  the  liquor  into  them, 
and  lay  them  on  the  ground.  As  the  liquor  is  being 
poured  into  the  cups,  certain  names,  which  seem  to  be 
those  of  the  ancestors,  are  called  out.  The  liquor  is 
then  drunk,  and  an  arrow  (am)  is  stuck  in  the  roof,  and 
a  brass  bangle  (khadu)  left,  before  the  visitors  take  their 
departure.  If  the  match  is  unacceptable  to  the  girl's 
family,  the  arrow  and  bangle  are  returned.  The  second 
visit  is  called  pank-sal,  or  sang-sang-dal-sol,  because  the 
liquor  pots  are  smeared  with  turmeric  paste.  Some- 
times it  is  called  nyanga-dal-sol,  because  the  future 
bridegroom  carries  a  small  pot  of  liquor  on  a  stick  borne 
on  the  shoulder ;  or  pojang,  because  the  arrow,  which 
has  been  stuck  in  the  roof,  is  set  up  in  the  ground  close 
to  one  of  the  pots  of  liquor.  In  some  places,  several 
visits  take  place  subsequent  to  the  first  visit,  at  one.  of 
which,  called  rodai-sal,  a  quarrel  arises. 

It  is  noted  by  Mr.  Ramamurti  Pantulu  that,  among 
the  Savaras  who  have  settled  in  the  low  country,  some 
differences  have  arisen  in  the  marriage  rites  **  owing 
to  the  introduction  of  Hindu  custom,  z.<?.,  those  obtaining 
among  the  Sudra  castes.  Some  of  the  Savaras  who  are 
more  Hinduised  than  others  consult  their  medicine  men 

323  S AVAR A 

as  to  what  day  would  be  most  auspicious  for  a  marriage, 
erect  pandals  (booths),  dispense  with  the  use  of  liquor, 
substituting  for  it  thick  jaggery  (crude  sugar)  water,  and 
hold  a  festival  for  two  or  three  days.     But  even  the  most 
Hindulsed  Savara  has  not  yet  fallen  directly  into  the  hands 
of  the  Brahman  priest."      At  the  marriage  ceremony  of 
some  Kapu  Savaras,  the  bride  and  bridegroom  sit  side 
by  side  at  the  auspicious  moment,  and  partake  of  boiled 
rice  (korra)  from  green  leaf-cups,  the  pair  exchanging 
cups.     Before  the  bridegroom  and  his  party  proceed  to 
their  village  with  the  bride,  they  present  the  males  and 
females  of  her  village  with  a  rupee,  which  is  called  janjul 
naglipu,  or  money  paid  for  taking  away  the  girl.     In 
another  form  of  Kapu  Savara   marriage,  the  would-be 
bridegroom   and    his    party   proceed,  on   an  auspicious 
day,  to  the  house  of  the  selected   girl,   and  offer  betel 
and  tobacco,  the  acceptance  of  which  is  a  sign  that  the 
match  is  agreeable  to  her  parents.     On  a  subsequent  day, 
a  small  sum  of  money  is  paid  as  the  bride-price.     On  the 
wedding  day  the  bride  is  conducted  to  the  home  of  the 
bridegroom,  where  the  contracting  couple  are  lifted  up 
by  two  people,  who  dance  about  with  them.     If  the  bride 
attempts  to  enter  the  house,  she  is  caught  hold  of,  and 
made  to  pay  a  small  sum  of  money  before  she  is  permitted 
to  do  so.     Inside  the  house,  the  officiating  Desari  ties  the 
ends  of  the  cloths  of  the  bride  and  bridegroom  together, 
after    the    ancestors   and     invisible   spirits   have    been 

Of  the  marriage  customs  of  the  Kapu  Savaras,  the 
following  account  is  given  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the 
Vizagapatam  district.  "  The  Kapu  Savaras  are  taking 
to  menarikam  (marriage  with  the  maternal  uncle's 
daughter),  although  the  hill  custom  requires  a  man  to 
marry  outside   his   village.     Their  wedding  ceremonies 

VI -3  I  B 

SAVARA  324 

bear  a  distant  resemblance  to  those  among  the  hill 
Savaras.  Among  the  Kapu  Savaras,  the  preliminary- 
arrow  and  liquor  are  similarly  presented,  but  the  bride- 
groom goes  at  length  on  an  auspicious  day  with  a  large 
party  to  the  bride's  house,  and  the  marriage  is  marked 
by  his  eating  out  of  the  same  platter  with  her,  and  by 
much  drinking,  feasting,  and  dancing." 

Children  are  named  after  the  day  of  the  week  on 
which  they  were  born,  and  nicknames  are  frequently 
substituted  for  the  birth  name.  Mr.  Fawcett  records,  for 
example,  that  a  man  was  called  Gylo  because,  when  a 
child,  he  was  fond  of  breaking  nuts  called  gylo,  and 
smearing  himself  with  their  black  juice.  Another  was 
called  Dallo  because,  in  his  youthful  days,  he  was  fond 
of  playing  about  with  a  basket  (dalli)  on  his  head. 

Concerning  the  death  rites,  Mr.  Fawcett  writes  as 
follows.  "  As  soon  as  a  man,  woman,  or  child  dies  in  a 
house,  a  gun,  loaded  with  powder  only,  is  fired  off  at  the 
door,  or,  if  plenty  of  powder  is  available,  several  shots  are 
fired,  to  frighten  away  the  Kulba  (spirit).  The  gun  used 
is  the  ordinary  Telugu  or  Uriya  matchlock.  Water  is 
poured  over  the  body  while  in  the  house.  It  is  then  car- 
ried away  to  the  family  burning-ground,  which  is  situated 
from  30  to  80  yards  from  the  cluster  of  houses  occupied 
by  the  family,  and  there  it  is  burned.  [It  is  stated  by 
Mr.  S.  P.  Rice  *  that  "  the  dead  man's  hands  and  feet 
are  tied  together,  and  a  bamboo  is  passed  through  them. 
Two  men  then  carry  the  corpse,  slung  in  this  fashion,  to 
the  burning-ground.  When  it  is  reached,  two  posts 
are  stuck  up,  and  the  bamboo,  with  the  corpse  tied  to  it, 
is  placed  crosswise  on  the  posts.  Then  below  the  corpse 
a  fire  is  lighted.     The  Savara  man  is  always  burnt  in 

•  Occasional  Essays  on  Native  South  Indian  Life,  190I. 


the  portion  of  the  ground — one  cannot  call  it  a  field — 
which  he  last  cultivated."]  The  only  wood  used  for  the 
pyre  is  that  of  the  mango,  and  of  Pongamia  glabra. 
Fresh,  green  branches  are  cut  and  used.  No  dry  wood 
is  used,  except  a  few  twigs  to  light  the  fire.  Were  any 
one  to  ask  those  carrying  a  body  to  the  burning-ground 
the  name  of  the  deceased  or  anything  about  him,  they 
would  be  very  angry.  Guns  are  fired  while  the  body  is 
being  carried.  Everything  a  man  has,  his  bows  and 
arrows,  his  tangi,  his  dagger,  his  necklaces,  his  reaping- 
hook  for  cutting  paddy,  his  axe,  some  paddy  and  rice, 
etc.,  are  burnt  with  his  body.  I  have  been  told  in 
Kolakotta  that  all  a  man's  money  too  is  burned,  but  it  is 
doubtful  if  it  really  ever  is — a  little  may  be.  A  Kola- 
kotta Gomango  told  me  "  If  we  do  not  burn  these  things 
with  the  body,  the  Kulba  will  come  and  ask  us  for  them, 
and  trouble  us."  The  body  is  burned  the  day  a  man  dies. 
The  next  day,  the  people  of  the  family  go  to  the  burning- 
place  with  water,  which  they  pour  over  the  embers. 
The  fragments  of  the  bones  are  then  picked  out,  and 
buried  about  two  feet  in  the  ground,  and  covered  over 
with  a  miniature  hut,  or  merely  with  some  thatching  grass 
kept  on  the  place  by  a  few  logs  of  wood,  or  in  the  floor 
of  a  small  hut  (thatched  roof  without  walls)  kept  specially 
for  the  Kulba  at  the  burning-place.  An  empty  egg-shell 
(domestic  hen's)  is  broken  under  foot,  and  buried  with 
the  bones.  It  is  not  uncommon  to  send  pieces  of  bone, 
after  burning,  to  relations  at  a  distance,  to  allow  them 
also  to  perform  the  funeral  rites.  The  first  sacrificial 
feast,  called  the  Limma,  is  usually  made  about  three  or 
four  days  after  the  body  has  been  burnt.  In  some  places, 
it  is  said  to  be  made  after  a  longer  interval.  For  the 
Limma  a  fowl  is  killed  at  the  burning-place,  some  rice 
or  other  grain  is  cooked,  and,  with  the  fowl,  eaten  by  the 

S AVAR A  326 

people  of  the  family,  with  the  usual  consumption  of  liquor. 
Of  course,  the  Kudang  (who  is  the  medium  of  communi- 
cation between  the  spirits  of  the  dead  and  the  living)  is 
on  the  spot,  and  communicates  with  the  Kulba.  If  the 
deceased  left  debts,  he,  through  the  Kudang,  tells  how 
they  should  be  settled.  Perhaps  the  Kulba  asks  for 
tobacco  and  liquor,  and  these  are  given  to  the  Kudang, 
who  keeps  the  tobacco,  and  drinks  the  liquor.  After  the 
Limma,  a  miniature  hut  is  built  for  the  Kulba  over  the 
spot  where  the  bones  are  buried.  But  this  is  not  done 
in  places  like  Kolakotta,  where  there  is  a  special  hut  set 
apart  for  the  Kulba.  In  some  parts  of  the  Saora  country, 
a  few  logs  with  grass  on  the  top  of  them,  logs  again  on  the 
top  to  keep  the  grass  in  its  place,  are  laid  over  the  buried 
fragments  of  bones,  it  is  said  to  be  for  keeping  rain  off, 
or  dogs  from  disturbing  the  bones.  In  the  evening 
previous  to  the  Limma,  bitter  food — the  fruits  or  leaves 
of  the  margosa  tree  {Melia  Azadirachta) — are  eaten. 
They  do  not  like  this  bitter  food,  and  partake  of  it  at  no 
other  time.  [The  same  custom,  called  pithapona,  or 
bitter  food,  obtains  among  the  Oriya  inhabitants  of  the 
plains.]  After  the  Limma,  the  Kulba  returns  to  the 
house  of  the  deceased,  but  it  is  not  supposed  to  remain 
there  always.  The  second  feast  to  the  dead,  also 
sacrificial,  is  called  the  Guar.  For  this,  a  buffalo,  a  large 
quantity  of  grain,  and  all  the  necessary  elements  and 
accompaniments  of  a  feast  are  required.  It  is  a  much 
larger  affair  than  the  Limma,  and  all  the  relations, 
and  perhaps  the  villagers,  join  in.  The  evening 
before  the  Guar,  there  is  a  small  feast  in  the  house 
for  the  purpose  of  calling  together  all  the  previously 
deceased  members  of  the  family,  to  be  ready  for  the 
Guar  on  the  following  day.  The  great  feature  of  the 
Guar  is  the  erection  of  a  stone  in  memory  of  the  deceased. 


From  50  to  100  yards  (sometimes  a  little  more)  from 
the  houses  occupied  by  a  family  may  be  seen  clusters  of 
stones  standing   upright  in  the  ground,  nearly  always 
under  a  tree.     Every  one  of  the  stones  has  been  put  up 
at  one  of  these  Guar  feasts.     There  is  a  great  deal  of 
drinking  and  dancing.     The  men,  armed  with  all  their 
weapons,  with  their  feathers  in  their  hair,  and  adorned 
with  coloured  cloths,  accompanied  by  the  women,  all 
dancing  as  they  go,  leave  the  house  for  the  place  where 
the  stones  are.     Music  always  accompanies  the  dancing. 
At    Kolakotta   there   is   another    thatched   hut  for  the 
Kulba  at   the    stones.     The   stone   is   put   up   in   the 
deceased's  name  at  about   11  a.m.,  and  at  about  2  p.m.  a 
buffalo  is  killed  close  to  it.     The  head  is  cut  off  with  an 
axe,  and  blood  is  put  on  the  stone.     The  stones  one  sees 
are  generally  from    i|^  to    4  feet  high.     There  is    no 
connection  between  the  size  of  the  storve  and  the  impor- 
tance of  the  deceased  person.     As  much  of  the  buffalo 
meat  as  is  required  for  the  feast  is  cooked,  and  eaten  at 
the  spot  where  the  stones  are.     The  uneaten  remains 
are  taken  away  by  the  relatives.     In  the  evening  the 
people  return  to  the  village,  dancing  as  they  go.     The 
Kolakotta  people  told  me  they  put  up  the  stones  under 
trees,  so   that  they  can  have  all    their  feasting  in  the 
shade.     Relations  exchange  compliments  by  presenting 
one  another  with  a  buffalo  for  the  Guar  feast,  and  receive 
one  in    return   on    a   future    occasion.     The   Guar   is 
supposed  to  give  the  Kulba  considerable  satisfaction, 
and  it  does  not  injure  people  as  it  did  before.     But,  as 
the  Guar  does  not  quite  satisfy  the  Kulba,  there  is  the 
great  biennial  feast  to  the  dead.     Every  second  year  (I 
am  still  speaking  of  Kolakotta)  is  performed  the  Karja 
or  biennial   feast  to  the  dead,  in  February  or   March, 
after  the  crops  are  cut.     All  the  Kolakotta  Saoras  join 

S AVAR A  32^ 

in  this  feast,  and  keep  up  drinking  and  dancing  for 
twelve  days.  During  these  days,  the  Kudangs  eat  only 
after  sunset.  Guns  are  continually  fired  off,  and  the 
people  give  themselves  up  to  sensuality.  On  the  last 
day,  there  is  a  great  slaughter  of  buffaloes.  In  front  of 
every  house  in  which  there  has  been  a  death  in  the 
previous  two  years,  at  least  one  buffalo,  and  sometimes 
two  or  three,  are  killed.  Last  year  (1886)  there  were 
said  to  be  at  least  a  thousand  buffaloes  killed  in  Kola- 
kotta  on  the  occasion  of  the  Karja.  The  buffaloes  are 
killed  in  the  afternoon.  Some  grain  is  cooked  in  the 
houses,  and,  with  some  liquor,  is  given  to  the  Kudangs, 
who  go  through  a  performance  of  offering  the  food  to  the 
Kulbas,  and  a  man's  or  a  woman's  cloth,  according  as  the 
deceased  is  a  male  or  female,  is  at  this  time  given  to  the 
Kudang  for  the  Kulba  of  each  deceased  person,  and  of 
course  the  Kudang  keeps  the  offerings.  The  Kudang 
then  tells  the  Kulba  to  begone,  and  trouble  the  inmates 
no  more.  The  house  people,  too,  sometimes  say  to  the 
Kulba  *  We  have  now  done  quite  enough  for  you :  we 
have  given  you  buffaloes,  liquor,  food,  and  cloths ;  now 
you  must  go'.  At  about  8  p.m.,  the  house  is  set  fire  to, 
and  burnt.  Every  house,  in  which  there  has  been  a 
death  within  the  last  two  years,  is  on  this  occasion 
burnt.  After  this,  the  Kulba  gives  no  more  trouble, 
and  does  not  come  to  reside  in  the  new  hut  that  is  built 
on  the  site  of  the  burnt  one.  It  never  hurts  grown 
people,  but  may  cause  some  infantile  diseases,  and  is 
easily  driven  away  by  a  small  sacrifice.  In  other  parts 
of  the  Saora  country,  the  funeral  rites  and  ceremonies  are 
somewhat  different  to  what  they  are  in  Kolakotta.  The 
burning  of  bodies,  and  burning  of  the  fragments  of  the 
bones,  is  the  same  everywhere  in  the  Saora  country.  In 
one  village  the  Saoras  said  the  bones  were  buried  until 

3^9  SAVARA 

another  person  died,  when  the  first  man's  bones  were 
dug  up  and  thrown  away,  and  the  last  person's  bones  put 
in  their  place.  Perhaps  they  did  not  correctly  convey 
what  they  meant.  I  once  saw  a  gaily  ornamented  hut, 
evidently  quite  new,  near  a  burning-place.  Rude  figures 
of  birds  and  red  rags  were  tied  to  five  bamboos,  which 
were  sticking  up  in  the  air  about  8  feet  above  the  hut,  one 
at  each  corner,  and  one  in  the  centre,  and  the  bamboos 
were  split,  and  notched  for  ornament.  The  hut  was 
about  4j  feet  square,  on  a  platform  three  feet  high. 
There  were  no  walls,  but  only  four  pillars,  one  at  each 
corner,  and  inside  a  loft  just  as  in  a  Saora's  hut.  A  very 
communicative  Saora  said  he  built  the  hut  for  his  brother 
after  he  had  performed  the  Limma,  and  had  buried  the 
bones  in  the  raised  platform  in  the  centre  of  the  hut. 
He  readily  went  inside,  and  showed  what  he  kept  there 
for  the  use  of  his  dead  brother's  Kulba.  On  the  loft 
were  baskets  of  grain,  a  bottle  of  oil  for  his  body,  a  brush 
to  sweep  the  hut  ;  in  fact  everything  the  Kulba  wanted. 
Generally,  where  it  is  the  custom  to  have  a  hut  for  the 
Kulba,  such  hut  is  furnished  with  food,  tobacco,  and 
liquor.  The  Kulba  is  still  a  Saora,  though  a  spiritual 
one.  In  a  village  two  miles  from  that  in  which  I  saw 
the  gaily  ornamented  hut,  no  hut  of  any  kind  is  built  for 
the  Kulba  ;  the  bones  are  merely  covered  with  grass. 
Weapons,  ornaments,  etc.,  are  rarely  burned  with  a  body 
outside  the  Kolakotta  villages.  In  some  places,  perhaps 
one  weapon,  or  a  few  ornaments  will  be  burned  with  it. 
In  some  places  the  Limma  and  Guar  feasts  are  combined, 
and  in  other  places  (and  this  is  most  common)  the  Guar 
and  Karja  are  combined,  but  there  is  no  burning  of 
houses.  In  some  places  this  is  performed  if  crops  are 
good.  One  often  sees,  placed  against  the  upright  stones 
to  the  dead,  pieces  of  ploughs  for  male  Kulbas,  and 

SAVARA  330 

baskets  for  sifting  grain  for  female  Kulbas.    I  once  came 

across  some  hundreds  of  Saoras  performing  the  Guar 

Karja.     Dancing,  with  music,  fantastically  dressed,  and 

brandishing  their  weapons,  they  returned  from  putting 

up   the    stones   to    the  village,  and  proceeded  to  hack 

to  pieces  with  their  axes  the  buffaloes  that  had  been 

slaughtered — a  disgusting  sight.     After  dark,  many  of 

the  feasters  passed  my  camp  on  their  way  home,  some 

carrying  legs   and  other   large   pieces  of  the  sacrificed 

buffaloes,   others  trying  to  dance   in    a   drunken   way, 

swinging  their  weapons.     During  my  last  visit  to  Kola- 

kotta,  I  witnessed  a  kind  of  combination  of  the  Limma 

and    Guar    (an    uncommon    arrangement    there)    made 

owing  to  peculiar  circumstances.     A  deceased  Saora  left 

no  family,  and  his  relatives  thought  it  advisable  to  get 

through  his  Limma  and  Guar  without  delay,  so  as  to  run 

no  risk  of  the  non-performance  of  these  feasts.      He  had 

been  dead  about  a  month.     The  Limma  was   performed 

one  day,  the  feast  calling  together  the  deceased  ancestors 

the  same  evening  ;  and  the  Guar  on  the  following  day. 

Part  of  the  Limma  was  performed  in  a  house.     Three 

men,  and  a  female  Kudang  sat  in  a  row  ;   in  front  of 

them  there  was  an  inverted  pot  on  the  ground,  and  around 

it  were  small  leaf  cups  containing  portions  of  food.      All 

chanted  together,  keeping  excellent  time.     Some  food 

in  a  little  leaf  cup  was  held  near  the  earthen  pot,  and 

now  and  then,  as  they  sang,   passed  round   it.     Some 

liquor  was  poured  on  the  food  in  the  leaf  cup,  and  put 

on  one  side  for  the  Kulba.     The  men  drank  liquor  from 

the  leaf  cups  which  had  been  passed  round  the  earthen 

pot.     After  some  silence  there  was  a  long  chant,  to  call 

together  all  spirits  of  ancestors   who  had  died   violent 

deaths,   and  request  them  to  receive  the   spirit  of  the 

deceased  among  them  ;  and  portions  of  food  and  liquor 

33 1  SAVARA 

were  put  aside  for  them.  Then  came  another  long 
chant,  calling  on  the  Kulbas  of  all  ancestors  to  come, 
and  receive  the  deceased  and  not  to  be  angry  with  him." 

It  is  stated*  that,  in  the  east  of  Gunupur,  the  Savaras 
commit  much  cattle  theft,  partly,  it  is  said,  because 
custom  enjoins  big  periodical  sacrifices  of  cattle  to  their 
deceased  ancestors.  In  connection  with  the  Guar 
festival,  Mr.  Ramamurti  Pantulu  writes  that  well-to-do 
individuals  offer  each  one  or  two  animals,  while,  among 
the  poorer  members  of  the  community,  four  or  five 
subscribe  small  sums  for  the  purchase  of  a  buffalo,  and 
a  goat.  "  There  are,"  he  continues,  "  special  portions 
of  the  sacrificed  animals,  which  should,  according  to 
custom,  be  presented  to  those  that  carried  the  dead 
bodies  to  the  grave,  as  well  as  to  the  Boya  and  Gomong. 
If  a  man  is  hanged,  a  string  is  suspended  in  the  house  on 
the  occasion  of  the  Guar,  so  that  the  spirit  may  descend 
along  it.  If  a  man  dies  of  wounds  caused  by  a  knife  or 
iron  weapon,  a  piece  of  iron  or  an  arrow  is  thrust  into 
a  rice-pot  to  represent  the  deceased."  I  gather  further 
that,  when  a  Savara  dies  after  a  protracted  illness,  a  pot 
is  suspended  by  a  string  from  the  roof  of  the  house.  On 
the  ground  is  placed  a  pot,  supported  on  three  stones. 
The  pots  are  smeared  with  turmeric  paste,  and  contain 
a  brass  box,  chillies,  rice,  onions,  and  salt.  They  are 
regarded  as  very  sacred,  and  it  is  believed  that  the 
ancestors  sometimes  visit  them. 

Concerning  the  religion  of  the  Savaras,  Mr.  Fawcett 
notes  that  their  name  for  deity  is  Sonnum  or  Sunnam, 
and  describes  the  following  : — 

(i)  Jalia.     In  some    places  thought  to    be    male, 
and  in  others  female.     The   most  widely  known,  very 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  Vizagapatam  district. 

S A VARA  332 

malevolent,  always  going  about  from  one  Saora  village 
to  another  causing  illness  or  death  ;  in  some  places  said 
to  eat  people.  Almost  every  illness  that  ends  in  death 
in  three  or  four  days  is  attributed  to  Jalia's  malevolence. 
When  mangoes  ripen,  and  before  they  are  eaten  cooked 
(though  they  may  be  eaten  raw),  a  sacrifice  of  goats,  with 
the  usual  drinking  and  dancing,  is  made  to  this  deity. 
In  some  villages,  in  the  present  year  (1887),  there 
were  built  for  the  first  time,  temples — square  thatched 
places  without  walls — in  the  villages.  The  reason 
given  for  building  in  the  villages  was  that  Jalia  had  come 
into  them.  Usually  erections  are  outside  villages,  and 
sacrifice  is  made  there,  in  order  that  Jalia  may  be  there 
appeased,  and  go  away.  But  sometimes  he  will  come  to 
a  village,  and,  if  he  does,  it  is  advisable  to  make  him 
comfortable.  One  of  these  newly  built  temples  was 
about  four  feet  square,  thatched  on  the  top,  with  no  walls, 
just  like  the  hut  for  departed  spirits.  A  Saora  went 
inside,  and  showed  us  the  articles  kept  for  Jalia's  use  and 
amusement.  There  were  two  new  cloths  in  a  bamboo 
box,  two  brushes  of  feathers  to  be  held  in  the  hand  when 
dancing,  oil  for  the  body,  a  small  looking-glass,  a  bell, 
and  a  lamp.  On  the  posts  were  some  red  spots.  Goats 
are  killed  close  by  the  temple,  and  the  blood  is  poured 
on  the  floor  of  the  platform  thereof.  There  are  a  few 
villages,  in  or  near  which  there  are  no  Jalia  erections, 
the  people  saying  that  Jalia  does  not  trouble  them,  or  that 
they  do  not  know  him.  In  one  village  where  there  was 
none,  the  Saoras  said  there  had  been  one,  but  they  got 
tired  of  Jalia,  and  made  a  large  sacrifice  with  numerous 
goats  and  fowls,  burnt  his  temple,  and  drove  him  out. 
Jalia  is  fond  of  tobacco.  Near  one  village  is  an  upright 
stone  in  front  of  a  little  Jalia  temple,  by  a  path-side,  for 
passers-by  to  leave  the  ends  of  their  cheroots  on  for  Jalia. 

333  SAVARA 

(2)  Kitung.  In  some  parts  there  is  a  story  that 
this  deity  produced  all  the  Saoras  in  Orissa,  and  brought 
them  with  all  the  animals  of  the  jungles  to  the  Saora 
country.  In  some  places,  a  stone  outside  the  village 
represents  this  deity,  and  on  it  sacrifices  are  made  on 
certain  occasions  to  appease  this  deity.  The  stone  is 
not  worshipped.  There  are  also  groves  sacred  to  this 
deity.  The  Uriyas  in  the  Saora  hills  also  have  certain 
sacred  groves,  in  which  the  axe  is  never  used. 

(3)  Rathu.     Gives  pains  in  the  neck. 

(4)  Dharma  Boja,  Lankan  (above),  Ayungang  (the 
sun).  The  first  name  is,  I  think,  of  Uriya  origin,  and 
the  last  the  real  Saora  name.  There  is  an  idea  in  the 
Kolakotta  country  that  it  causes  all  births.  This  deity 
is  not  altogether  beneficent,  and  causes  sickness,  and 
may  be  driven  away  by  sacrifices.  In  some  villages, 
this  deity  is  almost  the  only  one  known.  A  Saora  once 
told  me,  on  my  pointing  to  Venus  and  asking  what  it 
was,  that  the  stars  are  the  children  of  the  sun  and  moon, 
and  one  day  the  sun  said  he  would  eat  them  all  up. 
Woman-like,  the  moon  protested  against  the  destruc- 
tion of  her  progeny,  but  was  obliged  to  give  in.  She, 
however,  managed  to  hide  Venus  while  the  others  were 
being  devoured.  Venus  was  the  only  planet  he  knew. 
In  some  parts,  the  sun  is  not  a  deity. 

(5)  Kanni.  Very  malevolent.  Lives  in  big  trees, 
so  they  are  never  cut  in  groves  which  this  deity  is 
supposed  to  haunt.  I  frequently  saw  a  Saora  youth  of 
about  20,  who  was  supposed  to  be  possessed  by  this 
deity.  He  was  an  idiot,  who  had  fits.  Numerous 
buffaloes  had  been  sacrificed  to  Kanni,  to  induce  that 
deity  to  leave  the  youth,  but  to  no  purpose. 

*'  There   are    many    hill   deities    known    in    certain 
localities — Derema,  supposed  to  be  on  the  Deodangar 

SAVARA  334 

hill,  the  highest  in  the  neighbourhood,  Khistu,  Kinchin- 
yung,  I  Ida,  Lobo,  Kondho,  Balu,  Baradong,  etc.  These 
deities  of  the  hills  are  little  removed  from  the  spirits  of 
the  deceased  Saoras.  [Mr.  Ramamurti  Pantulu  refers 
to  two  hills,  one  at  Gayaba  called  Jum-tang  Baru,  or  eat 
cow  hill,  and  the  other  about  eight  miles  from  Parla- 
kimedi,  called  Media  Baru.  At  the  former,  a  cow  or 
bull  is  sacrificed,  because  a  Kuttung  once  ate  the  flesh 
of  a  cow  there  ;  at  the  latter  the  spirits  require  only  milk 
"and  liquor.  This  is  peculiar,  as  the  Savaras  generally 
hold  milk  in  abhorrence.]" 

"  There  is  invariably  one  fetish,  and  generally  there 
are  several  fetishes  in  every  Saora  house.  In  some 
villages,  where  the  sun  is  the  chief  deity  (and  causes 
most  mischief),  there  are  fetishes  of  the  sun  god  ;  in 
another  village,  fetishes  of  Jalia,  Kitung,  etc.  I  once  saw 
six  Jalia  fetishes,  and  three  other  fetishes  in  one  house. 
There  are  also,  especially  about  Kolakotta,  Kulba 
fetishes  in  houses.  The  fetish  is  generally  an  empty 
earthen  pot,  about  nine  inches  in  diameter,  slung  from  the 
roof.  The  Kudang  slings  it  up.  On  certain  occasions, 
offerings  are  made  to  the  deity  or  Kulba  represented 
by  the  fetish  on  the  floor  underneath  it.  Rude  pictures, 
too,  are  sometimes  fetishes.  The  fetish  to  the  sun  is 
generally  ornamented  with  a  rude  pattern  daubed  in  white 
on  the  outside.  In  the  village  of  Bori  in  the  Vizagapatam 
Agency,  ofl"erings  are  made  to  the  sun  fetish  when  a 
member  of  the  household  gets  pains  in  the  legs  or  arms, 
and  the  fetish  is  said  on  such  occasion  to  descend  of 
itself  to  the  floor.  Sacrifices  are  sometimes  made  inside 
houses,  under  the  fetishes,  sometimes  at  the  door,  and 
blood  put  on  the  ground  underneath  the  fetish." 

It  is  noted  by  Mr.  Ramamurti  Pantulu  that  "  the 
Kittungs  are  ten  in   number,  and   are  said  to  be  all 

335  SAVARA 

brothers.  Their  names  are  Bhima,  Rama,  Jodepulu, 
Peda,  Rung-rung,  Tumanna,  Garsada,  Jaganta,  Mutta, 
and  Tete.  On  some  occasions,  ten  figures  of  men, 
representing  the  Kittungs,  are  drawn  on  the  walls  of  a 
house.  Figures  of  horses  and  elephants,  the  sun,  moon 
and  stars,  are  also  drawn  below  them.  The  Boya  is  also 
represented.  When  a  woman  is  childless,  or  when  her 
children  die  frequently,  she  takes  a  vow  that  the  Kittung- 
purpur  ceremony  shall  be  celebrated,  if  a  child  is  born 
to  her,  and  grows  in  a  healthy  state.  If  this  comes  to 
pass,  a  young  pig  is  purchased,  and  marked  for  sacrifice. 
It  is  fattened,  and  allowed  to  grow  till  the  child  reaches 
the  age  of  twelve,  when  the  ceremony  is  performed. 

The  Madras  Museum  possesses  a  series  of  wooden 
votive  offerings  which  were  found  stacked  in  a  structure, 
which  has  been  described  to  me  as  resembling  a  pigeon- 
cot.  The  offerings  consisted  of  a  lizard  {Varanus), 
paroquet,  monkey,  peacock,  human  figures,  dagger,  gun, 
sword,  pick-axe,  and  musical  horn.  The  Savaras  would 
not  sell  them  to  the  district  officer,  but  parted  with  them 
on  the  understanding  that  they  would  be  worshipped  by 
the  Government. 

I  gather  that,  at  the  sale  or  transfer  of  land,  the 
spirits  are  invoked  by  the  Boya,  and,  after  the  distri- 
bution of  liquor,  the  seller  or  mortgager  holds  a  pipal 
{Ficus  religiosd)  leaf  with  a  lighted  wick  in  it  in  his 
hand,  while  the  purchaser  or  mortgagee  holds  another 
leaf  without  a  wick.  The  latter  covers  the  palm  of  the 
former  with  his  leaf,  and  the  terms  of  the  transaction 
are  then  announced. 

Concerning  the  performance  of  sacrifices,  Mr. 
Fawcett  writes  that  "  the  Saoras  say  they  never  practiced 
human  sacrifice.  Most  Saora  sacrifices,  which  are  also 
feasts,  are  made  to  appease  deities  or  Kulbas  that  have 

SAVARA  336 

done  mischief.  I  will  first  notice  the  few  which  do  not 
come  in  this  category,  (a)  The  feast  to  Jalia  when  man- 
goes ripen,  already  mentioned,  is  one.  In  a  village 
where  the  sun,  and  not  Jalia,  is  the  chief  deity,  this  feast 
is  made  to  the  sun.  Jalia  does  not  trouble  the  village, 
as  the  Kudung  meets  him  outside  it  now  and  then,  and 
sends  him  away  by  means  of  a  sacrifice.  [Sacrifices  and 
offerings  of  pigs  or  fowls,  rice,  and  liquor,  are  also  made 
at  the  mahua,  hill  grain,  and  red  gram  festivals.]  {d) 
A  small  sacrifice,  or  an  offering  of  food,  is  made  in  some 
places  before  a  child  is  born.  About  Kolakotta,  when  a 
child  is  born,  a  fowl  or  a  pound  or  so  of  rice,  and  a  quart 
of  liquor  provided  by  the  people  of  the  house,  will  be 
taken  by  the  Kudang  to  the  jungle,  and  the  fowl  sacri- 
ficed to  Kanni.  Blood,  liquor,  and  rice  are  left  in  leaf 
cups  for  Kanni,  and  the  rest  is  eaten.  In  every  paddy 
field  in  Kolakotta,  when  the  paddy  is  sprouting,  a  sacri- 
fice is  made  to  Sattira  for  good  crops.  A  stick  of  the 
tree  called  in  Uriya  kendhu,  about  five  or  six  feet  long, 
is  stuck  in  the  ground.  The  upper  end  is  sharpened 
to  a  point,  on  which  is  impaled  a  live  young  pig  or  a 
live  fowl,  and  over  it  an  inverted  earthen  pot  daubed 
over  with  white  rings.  If  this  sacrifice  is  not  made, 
good  crops  cannot  be  expected.  [It  may  be  noted  that 
the  impaling  of  live  pigs  is  practiced  in  the  Telugu 
country.]*  When  crops  ripen,  and  before  the  grain  is 
eaten,  sacrifice  is  made  to  Lobo  (the  earth).  Lobo 
Sonnum  is  the  earth  deity.  If  they  eat  the  grain  with- 
out performing  this  sacrifice,  it  will  disagree  with  them, 
and  will  not  germinate  properly  when  sown  again.  If 
crops  are  good,  a  goat  is  killed,  if  not  good,  a  pig 
or  a    fowl.     A    Kolakotta    Saora    told   me   of  another 

♦  See  Bishop  Whitehead.     Madras  Museum  Bull.,  Vol.  3,  136,  1907. 

337  S AVAR A 

sacrifice,  which  is  partly  of  a  propitiatory  nature.  If  a 
tiger  or  panther  kills  a  person,  the  Kudang  is  called,  and 
he,  on  the  following  Sunday,  goes  through  a  performance, 
to  prevent  a  similar  fate  overtaking  others.  Two  pigs 
are  killed  outside  the  village,  and  every  man,  woman, 
and  child  is  made  to  walk  over  the  ground  whereon  the 
pig's  blood  is  spilled,  and  the  Kudang  gives  to  each 
individual  some  kind  of  tiger  medicine  as  a  charm.  The 
Kudang  communicates  with  the  Kulba  of  the  deceased, 
and  learns  the  whole  story  of  how  he  met  his  death.  In 
another  part  of  the  Saora  country,  the  above  sacrifice 
is  unknown  ;  and,  when  a  person  is  killed  by  a  tiger 
or  panther,  a  buffalo  is  sacrificed  to  the  Kulba  of  the 
deceased  three  months  afterwards.  The  feast  is  begun 
before  dark,  and  the  buffalo  is  killed  the  next  morning. 
No  medicine  is  used.  Of  sacrifices  after  injury  is  felt, 
and  in  order  to  get  rid  of  it,  that  for  rain  may  be  noticed 
first.  The  Gomango,  another  important  man  in  the 
village,  and  the  Kudang  officiate.  A  pig  and  a  goat  are 
killed  outside  the  village  to  Kitung.  The  blood  must 
flow  on  the  stone.  Then  liquor  and  grain  are  set  forth, 
and  a  feast  is  made.  About  Kolakotta  the  belief  in  the 
active  malevolence  of  Kulbas  is  more  noticeable  than 
in  other  parts,  where  deities  cause  nearly  all  mischief. 
Sickness  and  death  are  caused  by  deities  or  Kulbas,  and 
it  is  the  Kudang  who  ascertains  which  particular  spirit 
is  in  possession  of,  or  has  hold  of  any  sick  person,  and 
informs  him  what  is  to  be  done  in  order  to  drive  it  away. 
He  divines  in  this  way  usually.  He  places  a  small 
earthen  saucer,  with  a  little  oil  and  lighted  wick  in  it,  in 
the  patient's  hand.  With  his  left  hand  he  holds  the 
patient's  wrist,  and  with  his  right  drops  from  a  leaf  cup 
grains  of  rice  on  to  the  flame.  As  each  grain  drops,  he 
calls  out  the  name  of  different  deities,  and  Kulbas,  and, 

SAVARA  338 

whichever  spirit  is  being  named  as  a  grain  catches  fire, 
is  that  causing  the  sickness.  The  Kudang  is  at  once  in 
communication  with  the  deity  or  Kulba,  who  informs 
him  what  must  be  done  for  him,  what  sacrifice  made 
before  he  will  go  away.  There  is,  in  some  parts  of  the 
Saora  country,  another  method  by  which  a  Kudang 
divines  the  cause  of  sickness.  He  holds  the  patient's 
hand  for  a  quarter  of  an  hour  or  so,  and  goes  off  in  a 
trance,  in  which  the  deity  or  Kulba  causing  the  sickness 
communicates  with  the  Kudang,  and  says  what  must  be 
done  to  appease  him.  The  Kudang  is  generally,  if  not 
always,  fasting  when  engaged  in  divination.  If  a  deity 
or  Kulba  refuses  to  go  away  from  a  sick  person,  another 
more  powerful  deity  or  Kulba  can  be  induced  to  turn 
him  out. 

A  long  account  of  a  big  sacrifice  is  given  by  Mr. 
Fawcett,  of  which  the  following  is  a  summary.  The 
Kudang  was  a  lean  individual  of  about  40  or  45,  with  a 
grizzled  beard  a  couple  of  inches  in  length.  He  had  a 
large  bunch  of  feathers  in  his  hair,  and  the  ordinary 
Saora  waist-cloth  with  a  tail  before  and  behind.  There 
were  tom-toms  with  the  party.  A  buffalo  was  tied  up  in 
front  of  the  house,  and  was  to  be  sacrificed  to  a  deity 
who  had  seized  on  a  young .  boy,  and  was  giving  him 
fever.  The  boy's  mother  came  out  with  some  grain,  and 
other  necessaries  for  a  feed,  in  a  basket  on  her  head. 
All  started,  the  father  of  the  boy  carrying  him,  a  man 
dragging  the  buffalo  along,  and  the  Kudang  driving  it 
from  behind.  As  they  started,  the  Kudang  shouted  out 
some  gibberish,  apparently  addressed  to  the  deity,  to 
whom  the  sacrifice  was  to  be  made.  The  party  halted 
in  the  shade  of  some  big  trees.  They  said  that  the 
sacrifice  was  to  the  road  god,  who  would  go  away  by  the 
path  after  the  sacrifice.     Having  arrived  at  the  place,  the 

339  SAVARA 

woman  set  down  her  basket,  the  men  laid  down  their 
axes  and  the  tom-toms,  and  a  fire  was  lighted.  The 
buffalo  was  tied  up  20  yards  off  on  the  path,  and  began 
to  graze.  After  a  quarter  of  an  hour,  the  father  took  the 
boy  in  his  lap  as  he  sat  on  the  path,  and  the  Kudang's 
assistant  sat  on  his  left  with  a  tom-tom  before  him. 
The  Kudang  stood  before  the  father  on  the  path, 
holding  a  small  new  earthen  pot  in  his  hand.  The 
assistant  beat  the  tom-tom  at  the  rate  of  150  beats  to 
the  minute.  The  Kudang  held  the  earthen  pot  to  his 
mouth,  and,  looking  up  to  the  sun  (it  was  9  a.m.),  shouted 
some  gibberish  into  it,  and  then  danced  round  and  round 
without  leaving  his  place,  throwing  up  the  pot  an  inch 
or  so,  and  catching  it  with  both  hands,  in  perfect  time 
with  the  tom-tom,  while  he  chanted  gibberish  for  a 
quarter  of  an  hour.  Occasionally,  he  held  the  pot  up  to 
the  sun,  as  if  saluting-  it,  shouted  into  it,  and  passed  it 
round  the  father's  head  and  then  round  the  boy's  head, 
every  motion  in  time  with  the  tom-tom.  The  chant 
over,  he  put  down  the  pot,  and  took  up  a  toy-like  bow 
and  arrow.  The  bow  was  about  two  feet  long,  through 
which  was  fixed  an  arrow  with  a  large  head,  so  that  it 
could  be  pulled  only  to  a  certain  extent.  The  arrow 
was  fastened  to  the  string,  so  that  it  could  not  be 
detached  from  the  bow.  He  then  stuck  a  small  wax 
ball  on  to  the  point  of  the  arrow  head,  and,  dancing  as 
before,  went  on  with  his  chant  accompanied  by  the  tom- 
tom. Looking  up  at  the  sun,  he  took  aim  with  the  bow, 
and  fired  the  wax  ball  at  it.  He  then  fired  balls  of  wax, 
and  afterwards  other  small  balls,  which  the  Uriyas 
present  said  were  medicine  of  some  kind,  at  the  boy's 
head,  stomach,  and  legs.  As  each  ball  struck  him,  he 
cried.  The  Kudang,  still  chanting,  then  went  to  the 
buffalo,  and  fired  a  wax  ball  at  its  head.  He  came  back 
Yi-22  B 

SAVARA  340 

to  where  the  father  was  sitting,  and,  putting  down  the 
bow,  took  up  two  thin  pieces  of  wood  a  foot  long,  an 
inch  wide,  and  blackened  at  the  ends.  The  chant  ceased 
for  a  few  moments  while  he  was  changing  the  bow  for 
the  pieces  of  wood,  but,  when  he  had  them  in  his  hands, 
he  went  on  again  with  it,  dancing  round  as  before,  and 
striking  the  two  pieces  of  wood  together  in  time.  This 
lasted  about  five  minutes,  and,  in  the  middle  of  the 
dance,  he  put  an  umbrella-like  shade  on  his  head.  The 
dance  over,  he  went  to  the  buffalo,  and  stroked  it  all 
over  with  the  two  pieces  of  wood,  first  on  the  head,  then 
on  the  body  and  rump,  and  the  chant  ceased.  He  then 
sat  in  front  of  the  boy,  put  a  handful  of  common  herbs 
into  the  earthen  pot,  and  poured  some  water  into  it. 
Chanting,  he  bathed  the  boy's  head  with  the  herbs  and 
water,  the  father's  head,  the  boy's  head  again,  and  then 
the  buffalo's  head,  smearing  them  with  the  herbs.  He 
blew  into  one  ear  of  the  boy,  and  then  into  the  other. 
The  chant  ceased,  and  he  sat  on  the  path.  The  boy's 
father  got  up,  and,  carrying  the  boy,  seated  him  on  the 
ground.  Then,  with  an  axe,  which  was  touched  by  the 
sick  boy,  he  went  up  to  the  buffalo,  and  with  a  blow 
almost  buried  the  head  of  the  axe  in  the  buffalo's  neck. 
He  screwed  the  axe  about  until  he  disengaged  it,  and 
dealt  a  second  and  a  third  blow  in  the  same  place,  and 
the  buffalo  fell  on  its  side.  When  it  fell,  the  boy's 
father  walked  away.  As  the  first  blow  was  given,  the 
Kudang  started  up  very  excited  as  if  suddenly  much 
overcome,  holding  his  arms  slightly  raised  before  him, 
and  staggered  about.  His  assistant  rushed  at  him,  and 
held  him  round  the  body,  while  he  struggled  violently 
as  if  striving  to  get  to  the  bleeding  buffalo.  He 
continued  struggling  while  the  boy's  father  made  his 
three  blows  on  the  buffalo's  neck.     The  father  brought 

341  SAVARA 

him  some  of  the  blood  in  a  leaf  cup,  which  he  greedily 
drank,  and  was  at  once  quiet.  Some  water  was  then 
given  him,  and  he  seemed  to  be  all  right.  After  a 
minute  or  so,  he  sat  on  the  path  with  the  tom-tom 
before  him.  and,  beating  it,  chanted  as  before.  The 
boy's  father  returned  to  the  buffalo,  and,  with  a  few 
more  whacks  at  it,  stopped  its  struggles.  Some  two  or 
three  men  joined  him,  and,  with  their  axes  and  swords, 
soon  had  the  buffalo  in  pieces.  All  present,  except  the 
Kudang,  had  a  good  feed,  during  which  the  tom-tom 
ceased.  After  the  feed,  Kudang  went  at  it  again,  and 
kept  it  up  at  intervals  for  a  couple  of  hours.  He  once 
went  for  25  minutes  at  156  beats  to  the  minute  without 

A  variant  of  the  ceremonial  here  described  has  been 
given  to  me  by  Mr.  G.  F.  Paddison  from  the  Gunapur 
hills.  A  buffalo  is  tied  up  to  the  door  of  the  house, 
where  the  sick  person  resides.  Herbs  and  rice  in  small 
platters,  and  a  little  brass  vessel  containing  toddy,  balls 
of  rice,  flowers,  and  medicine,  are  brought  with  a  bow 
and  arrow.  The  arrow  is  thicker  at  the  basal  end  than 
towards  the  tip.  The  narrow  part  goes,  when  shot, 
through  a  hole  in  the  bow,  too  small  to  allow  of  passage 
of  the  rest  of  the  arrow.  The  Beju  (wise  woman)  pours 
toddy  over  the  herbs  and  rice,  and  daubs  the  sick  person 
over  the  forehead,  breasts,  stomach,  and  back.  She 
croons  out  a  long  incantation  to  the  goddess,  stopping 
at  intervals  to  call  out  "  Daru,"  to  attract  her  attention. 
She  then  takes  the  bow  and  arrow,  and  shoots  into  the 
air.  She  then  stands  behind  the  kneeling  patient,  and 
shoots  balls  of  medicine  stuck  on  the  tip  of  the  arrow  at 
her.  The  construction  of  the  arrow  is  such  that  the  balls 
are  dislodged  from  the  tip  of  the  arrow.  The  patient  is 
thus  shot  at  all  over  the  body,  which  is  bruised  by  the 

S A VARA  342 

impact  of  the  balls.  Afterwards  the  Beju  shoots  one  or 
two  balls  at  the  buffalo,  which  is  taken  to  a  path  forming 
the  village  boundary,  and  killed  with  a  tangi  (axe).  The 
patient  is  then  daubed  with  blood  of  the  buffalo,  rice  and 
toddy.     A  feast  concludes  the  ceremonial. 

The  following  account  of  a  sacrifice  to  Rathu,  who 
had  given  fever  to  the  sister  of  the  celebrant  Kudang,  is 
given  by  Mr.  Fawcett.  "  The  Kudang  was  squatting, 
facing  west,  his  fingers  in  his  ears,  and  chanting  gibberish 
with  continued  side-shaking  of  his  head.  About  two 
feet  in  front  of  him  was  an  apparatus  made  of  split  bamboo. 
A  young  pig  had  been  killed  over  it,  so  that  the  blood 
was  received  in  a  little  leaf  cup,  and  sprinkled  over  the 
bamboo  work.  The  Kudang  never  ceased  his  chant  for 
an  hour  and  a  half.  While  he  was  chanting,  some  eight 
Saoras  were  cooking  the  pig  with  some  grain,  and  having 
a  good  feed.  Between  the  bamboo  structure  and  the 
Kudang  were  three  little  leaf  cups,  containing  portions 
of  the  food  for  Rathu.  A  share  of  the  food  was  kept 
for  the  Kudang,  who  when  he  had  finished  his  chant, 
got  up  and  ate  it.  Another  performance,  for  which  some 
dried  meat  of  a  buffalo  that  had  been  sacrificed  a  month 
previously  was  used,  I  saw  on  the  same  day.  Three 
men,  a  boy,  and  a  baby,  were  sitting  in  the  jungle.  The 
men  were  preparing  food,  and  said  that  they  were  about 
to  do  some  reverence  to  the  sun,  who  had  caused  fever 
to  some  one.  Portions  of  the  food  were  to  be  set  out  in 
leaf  cups  for  the  sun  deity." 

It  is  recorded  by  Mr.  Ramamurti  Pantulu  that,  when 
children  are  seriously  ill  and  become  emaciated,  offerings 
are  made  to  monkeys  and  blood-suckers  (lizards),  not  in 
the  belief  that  illness  is  caused  by  them,  but  because  the 
sick  child,  in  its  emaciated  state,  resembles  an  attenuated 
figure  of  these  animals.    Accordingly,  a  blood-sucker  is 

343  SAVARA 

captured,  small  toy  arrows  are  tied  round  its  body,  and 
a  piece  of  cloth  is  tied  on  its  head.  Some  drops  of 
liquor  are  then  poured  into  its  mouth,  and  it  is  set  at 
liberty.  In  negociating  with  a  monkey,  some  rice  and 
other  articles  of  food  are  placed  in  small  baskets,  called 
tanurjal,  which  are  suspended  from  branches  of  trees  in 
the  jungle.  The  Savaras  frequently  attend  the  markets 
or  fairs  held  in  the  plains  at  the  foot  of  the  ghats  to 
purchase  salt  and  other  luxuries.  If  a  Savara  is  taken  ill 
at  the  market  or  on  his  return  thence,  he  attributes  the 
illness  to  a  spirit  of  the  market  called  Biradi  Sonum. 
The  bulls,  which  carry  the  goods  of  the  Hindu  merchants 
to  the  market,  are  supposed  to  convey  this  spirit.  In 
propitiating  it,  the  Savara  makes  an  image  of  a  bull  in 
straw,  and,  taking  it  out  of  his  village,  leaves  it  on  the 
foot-path  after  a  pig  has  been  sacrified  to  it. 

"  Each  group  of  Savaras,"  Mr.  Ramamurti  writes,  "  is 
under  the  government  of  two  chiefs,  one  of  whom  is  the 
Gomong  (or  great  man)  and  the  other,  his  colleague  in 
council,  is  the  Boya,  who  not  only  discharges,  in  conjunc- 
tion with  the  Gomong,  the  duties  of  magistrate,  but  also 
holds  the  office  of  high  priest.  The  offices  of  these  two 
functionaries  are  hereditary,  and  the  rule  of  primogeni- 
ture regulates  succession,  subject  to  the  principle  that 
incapable  individuals  should  be  excluded.  The  presence 
of  these  two  officers  is  absolutely  necessary  on  occasions 
of  marriages  and  funerals,  as  well  as  at  harvest  festivals. 
Sales  and  mortgages  of  land  and  liquor-yielding  trees, 
partition  and  other  dispositions  of  property,  and  divorces 
are  effected  in  the  council  of  village  elders,  presided 
over  by  the  Gomong  and  Boya,  by  means  of  long  and 
tedious  proceedings  involving  various  religious  cere- 
monies. All  cases  of  a  civil  and  criminal  nature  are 
heard  and  disposed  of  by  them.     Fines  are  imposed  as 

savarA  344 

a  punishment  for  all  sorts  of  offences.  These  Invariably 
consist  of  liquor  and  cattle,  the  quantity  of  liquor  and 
the  number  of  animals  varying  according  to  the  nature 
of  the  offence.  The  murder  of  a  woman  Is  considered 
more  heinous  than  the  murder  of  a  man,  as  woman, 
being  capable  of  multiplying  the  race,  is  the  more  useful. 
A  thief,  while  in  the  act  of  stealing,  may  be  shot  dead. 
It  is  always  the  man,  and  not  the  woman,  that  is  pun- 
ished for  adultery.  Oaths  are  administered,  and  ordeals 
prescribed.  Until  forty  or  fifty  years  ago,  it  is  said 
that  the  Savara  magistrate  had  jurisdiction  In  murder 
cases.  He  was  the  highest  tribunal  In  the  village, 
the  only  arbitrator  in  all  transactions  among  the  vil- 
lagers. And,  If  any  differences  arose  between  his  men 
and  the  inhabitants  of  a  neighbouring  village,  for 
settling  which  it  was  necessary  that  a  battle  should  be 
fought,  the  Gomong  became  the  commander,  and,  lead- 
ing his  men,  contested  the  cause  with  all  his  might. 
These  ofificers,  though  discharging  such  onerous  and 
responsible  duties,  are  regarded  as  In  no  special  degree 
superior  to  others  In  social  position.  They  enjoy  no 
special  privileges,  and  receive  no  fees  from  the  suitors 
who  come  up  to  their  court.  Except  on  occasions  of 
public  festivals,  over  which  they  preside,  they  are  content 
to  hold  equal  rank  with  the  other  elders  of  the  village. 
Each  cultivates  his  field,  and  builds  his  house.  His 
wife  brings  home  fuel  and  water,  and  cooks  for  his  family  ; 
his  son  watches  his  cattle  and  crops.  The  English 
officials  and  the  Bissoyis  have,  however,  accorded  to 
these  Savara  officers  some  distinction.  When  the 
Governor's  Agent,  during  his  annual  tour.  Invites  the 
Savara  elders  to  bhetl  (visit),  they  make  presents  of  a 
fowl,  sheep,  eggs,  or  a  basket  of  rice,  and  receive  cloths, 
necklaces,  etc.     The  Bissoyis  exempt  them  from  personal 

345  SAVARA 

service,  which  is  demanded  from  all  others."  At  the 
Sankaranthi  festival,  the  Savaras  bring  loads  of  firewood, 
yams  {Dioscorea  tubers),  pumpkins,  etc.,  as  presents  for 
the  Bissoyi,  and  receive  presents  from  him  in  return. 

Besides  cultivating,  the  Savaras  collect  Bauhinia 
leaves,  and  sell  them  to  traders  for  making  leaf  platters. 
The  leaves  of  the  jel-adda  tree  {^Bauhinia  purpurea)  are 
believed  to  be  particularly  appreciated  by  the  Savara 
spirits,  and  offerings  made  to  them  should  be  placed  in 
cups  made  thereof.  The  Savaras  also  collect  various 
articles  of  minor  forest  produce,  honey  and  wax.  They 
know  how  to  distil  liquor  from  the  flowers  of  the  mahua 
{Bassia  latifolid).  The  process  of  distillation  has  been 
thus  described.*  "  The  flowers  are  soaked  in  water  for 
three  or  four  days,  and  are  then  boiled  with  water  in  an 
earthenware  chatty.  Over  the  top  of  this  is  placed 
another  chatty,  mouth  downwards,  the  join  between  the 
two  being  made  air-tight  by  being  tied  round  with  a  bit 
of  cloth,  and  luted  with  clay.  From  a  hole  made  in  the 
upper  chatty,  a  hollow  bamboo  leads  to  a  third  pot, 
specially  made  for  the  purpose,  which  is  globular,  and  has 
no  opening  except  that  into  which  the  bamboo  pipe  leads. 
This  last  is  kept  cool  by  pouring  water  constantly  over 
it,  and  the  distillate  is  forced  into  it  through  the  bamboo, 
and  there  condenses." 

In  a  report  on  his  tour  through  the  Savara  country  in 
1863,  the  Agent  to  the  Governor  of  Madras  reported  as 
follows.  "At  Gunapur  I  heard  great  complaints  of  the 
thievish  habits  of  the  Soura  tribes  on  the  hills  dividing 
Gunapur  from  Pedda  Kimedy.  They  are  not  dacoits, 
but  very  expert  burglers,  if  the  term  can  be  applied  to 
<^iggirig  a  hole  in  the  night  through  a  mud  wall.     If 

•   Gazetteer  of  Vizagapatam  district. 

SAVARA  346 

discovered  and  hard  pressed,  they  do  not  hesitate  to 
discharge  their  arrows,  which  they  do  with  unerring 
aim,  and  always  with  fatal  result.  Three  or  four  mur- 
ders have  been  perpetrated  by  these  people  in  this  way 
since  the  country  has  been  under  our  management.  I 
arranged  with  the  Superintendent  of  Police  to  station 
a  party  of  the  Armed  Reserve  in  the  ghaut  leading 
to  Soura  country.  One  or  two  cases  of  seizure  and 
conviction  will  suffice  to  put  a  check  to  the  crime." 

It  is  recorded,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the  Vizagapatam 
district,  that  "in  1864  trouble  occurred  with  the  Sava- 
ras.  One  of  their  headmen  having  been  improperly 
arrested  by  the  police  of  Pottasingi,  they  effected  a 
rescue,  killed  the  Inspector  and  four  constables,  and 
burnt  down  the  station-house.  The  Raja  of  Jeypore 
was  requested  to  use  his  influence  to  procure  the 
arrest  of  the  offenders,  and  eventually  twenty-four  were 
captured,  of  whom  nine  were  transported  for  life,  and  five 
were  sentenced  to  death,  and  hanged  at  Jalteru,  at  the 
foot  of  the  ghat  to  Pottasingi.  Government  presented 
the  Raja  with  a  rifle  and  other  gifts  in  acknowledgment 
of  his  assistance.  The  country  did  not  immediately 
calm  down,  however,  and,  in  1865,  a  body  of  police, 
who  were  sent  to  establish  a  post  in  the  hills,  were 
attacked,  and  forced  to  beat  a  retreat  down  the  ghat. 
A  large  force  was  then  assembled,  and,  after  a  brief  but 
harassing  campaign,  the  post  was  firmly  occupied  in 
January,  1866.  Three  of  the  ringleaders  of  this  rising 
were  transported  for  life.  The  hill  Savaras  remained 
timid  and  suspicious  for  some  years  afterwards,  and, 
as  late  as  1874,  the  reports  mention  it  as  a  notable 
fact  that  they  were  beginning  to  frequent  markets  on 
the  plains,  and  that  the  low-country  people  no  longer 
feared  to  trust  themselves  above  the  ghats." 


In  1905,  Government  approved  the  following  pro- 
posals for  the  improvement  of  education  among  the 
Savaras  and  other  hill  tribes  in  the  Ganjam  and  Vizaga- 
patam  Agencies,  so  far  as  Government  schools  are 
concerned : — 

(i)  That  instruction  to  the  hill  tribes  should  be 
given  orally  through  the  medium  of  their  own  mother 
tongue,  and  that,  when  a  Savara  knows  both  Uriya  and 
Telugu,  it  would  be  advantageous  to  educate  him  in 
Uriya  ; 

(2)  That  evening  classes  be  opened  whenever 
possible,  the  buildings  in  which  they  are  held  being  also 
used  for  night  schools  for  adults  who  should  receive 
oral  instruction,  and  that  magic-lantern  exhibitions 
might  be  arranged  for  occasionally,  to  make  the  classes 
attractive  ; 

(3)  That  concessions,  if  any,  in  the  matter  of 
grants  admissible  to  Savaras,  K bonds,  etc.,  under  the 
Grant-in-aid  Code,  be  extended  to  the  pupils  of  the  above 
communities  that  attend  schools  in  the  plains  ; 

(4)  That  an  itinerating  agency,  who  could  go 
round  and  look  after  the  work  of  the  agency  schools,  be 
established  and  that,  in  the  selection  of  hill  school  estab- 
lishments, preference  be  given  to  men  educated  in  the 
hill  schools  ; 

(5)  That  some  suitable  form  of  manual  occupation 
be  introduced,  wherever  possible,  into  the  day's  work, 
and  the  schools  be  supplied  with  the  requisite  tools,  and 
that  increased  grants  be  given  for  anything  original. 

Savara. — A  name,  denoting  hill-men,  adopted  by 
Male  Kudiyas. 

Savu  (death). — A  sub-division  of  Mala. 

Sayakkaran. — An  occupational  term,  meaning  a 
dyer,  returned,  at  times  of  census,  by  Tamil  dyers. 


Sayutnpadai  Tangi.— Thename,meaning  supporter 
of  the  vanquished  army,  of  a  section  of  Kalians. 

Sedan. — A  synonym  of  Devanga.  At  times  of 
census,  Seda  Dasi  has  been  returned  by  Devanga 
dancing-girls  in  the  Madura  district.  The  following 
legend  of  Savadamma,  the  goddess  of  the  weaver  caste 
in  Coimbatore,  is  narrated  by  Bishop  Whitehead.* 
"  Once  upon  a  time,  when  there  was  fierce  conflict 
between  the  men  and  the  rakshasas,  the  men,  who  were 
getting  defeated,  applied  for  help  to  the  god  Siva,  who 
sent  his  wife  Parvati  as  an  avatar  or  incarnation  into  the 
world  to  help  them.  The  avatar  enabled  them  to  defeat 
the  rakshasas,  and,  as  the  weaver  caste  were  in  the 
forefront  of  the  battle,  she  became  the  goddess  of  the 
weavers,  and  was  known  in  consequence  as  Savadamman, 
a  corruption  of  Sedar  Amman,  Sedan  being  a  title  of  the 
weavers.  It  is  said  that  her  original  home  was  in  the 
north  of  India,  near  the  Himalayas." 

Segidi. — The  Segidis  are  a  Telugu  caste  of  toddy 
sellers  and  distillers  of  arrack,  who  are  found  mainly  in 
Ganjam  and  Vizagapatam. 

For  the  purposes  of  the  Madras  Abkari  Act,  toddy 
means  fermented  or  unfermented  juice  drawn  from  a 
cocoanut,  palmyra,  date,  or  any  other  kind  of  palm-tree. 
It  is  laid  down,  in  the  Madras  Excise  Manual,  that 
"  unfermented  toddy  is  not  subject  to  any  taxation,  but 
it  must  be  drawn  in  pots  freshly  coated  internally  with 
lime.  Lime  is  prescribed  as  the  substance  with  which 
the  interior  of  pots  or  other  receptacles  in  which  sweet 
toddy  is  drawn  should  be  coated,  as  it  checks  the 
fermentation  of  the  toddy  coming  in  contact  with  it ;  but 
this  effect  cannot  be   secured  unless  the  internal  lime 

♦  Madras  Museum  Bulletin,  V,  3,  1907. 

349  SEGIDI 

coating  of  the  toddy  pot  or  vessel  Is  thorough,  and  is 
renewed  every  time  that  the  pot  is  emptied  of  its 
contents."  It  is  noted  by  Bishop  Caldwell*  that  "it  is 
the  unfermented  juice  of  the  palmyra  (and  other  palms) 
which  is  used  as  food.  When  allowed  to  ferment,  which 
it  will  do  before  midday,  if  left  to  itself,  it  is  changed  into 
a  sweet  intoxicating  drink  called  kal  or  toddy."  Pietro 
Delia  Valle  records  "i"  that  he  stayed  on  board  till  night- 
fall, "  entertaining  with  conversation  and  drinking  tari, 
a  liquor  which  is  drawn  from  the  cocoanut  trees,  of  a 
whitish  colour,  a  little  turbid,  and  of  a  somewhat  rough 
taste,  though  with  a  blending  in  sweetness,  and  not 
unpalatable,  something  like  one  of  our  vini piccanti.  It 
will  also  intoxicate,  like  wine,  if  drunk  over  freely." 
Writing  in  1673,  Fryer  \  describes  the  Natives  as  **  sing- 
ing and  roaring  all  night  long ;  being  drunk  with  toddy, 
the  wine  of  the  Cocoe." 

Arrack  is  a  spirituous  liquor  distilled  from  the 
fermented  sap  of  various  palms.  In  some  parts  of  the 
Madras  Presidency,  arrack  vendors  consider  it  unlucky 
to  set  their  measures  upside  down.  Some  time  ago,  the 
Excise  Commissioner  informs  me,  the  Excise  depart- 
ment had  some  aluminium  measures  made  for  measuring 
arrack  in  liquor  shops.  It  was  found  that  the  arrack 
corroded  the  aluminium,  and  the  measures  soon  leaked. 
The  shopkeepers  were  told  to  turn  their  measures  upside 
down,  in  order  that  they  might  drain.  This  they  refused 
to  do,  as  it  would  bring  bad  luck  to  their  shop.  New 
measures  with  round  bottoms  were  evolved,  which  would 
not  stand  up.  But  the  shopkeepers  began  to  use  rings 
of  india-rubber  from  soda-water  bottles,  to  make  them 
stand.     An  endeavour  has  since  been  made  to  induce 

•  Lectures  on  Tinnevelly  Missions,  1857.  f  Viaggi,  1614-26. 

•  ^  A  New  Account  of  East  India  and  Persia,  1698. 

sekkAn  350 

them  to  keep  their  measures  inverted  by  hanging  them 
on  pegs,  so  that  they  will  drain  without  being  turned 
upside  down.  The  case  illustrates  well  how  important 
a  knowledge  of  the  superstitions  of  the  people  is  in  the 
administration  of  their  affairs. 

The  Segidis  do  not  draw  the  liquor  from  the  palm- 
tree  themselves,  but  purchase  it  from  the  toddy-drawing 
castes,  the  Yatas  and  Gamallas. 

They  have  a  caste  headman,  called  Kulampedda,  who 
settles  disputes  with  the  assistance  of  a  council.  Like 
other  Telugu  castes,  they  have  intiperulu  or  house 
names,  which  are  strictly  exogamous.  Girls  are  mar- 
ried either  before  or  after  puberty.  The  custom  of 
menarikam  is  practiced,  in  accordance  with  which  a  man 
marries  his  maternal  aunt's  daughter.  A  Brahman 
officiates  at  marriages,  except  the  remarriage  of  widows. 
When  a  widow  is  remarried,  the  caste-men  assemble, 
and  the  Kulampedda  ties  the  sathamanam  (marriage 
badge)  on  the  bride's  neck. 

The  dead  are  usually  cremated,  and  the  washerman 
of  the  village  assists  the  chief  mourner  in  igniting  the 
pyre.     A  Satani  conducts  the  funeral  ceremonies. 

The  Segidis  worship  various  village  deities,  and 
perantalammas,  or  women  who  killed  themselves  during 
their  husbands'  lives  or  on  their  death. 

The  more  well-to-do  members  of  the  caste  take  the 
title  Anna. 

Sekkan  (oil-man). — A  synonym  of  Vaniyan. 

Sembadavan.— The  Sembadavans  are  the  fisher- 
men of  the  Tamil  country,  who  carry  on  their  calling  in 
freshwater  tanks  (ponds),  lakes  and  rivers,  and  never 
in  the  sea.  Some  of  them  are  ferrymen,  and  the  name 
has  been  derived  from  sem  (good),  padavan  (boat- 
men).    A  legend   runs  to  the  effect  that  the  goddess 


Ankalamman,  whom  they  worship  with  offerings  of  sheep, 
pigs,  fowls,  rice,  etc.,  was  a  Sembadava  girl,  of  whom 
Siva  became  enamoured,  and  Sembadavan  is  accordingly- 
derived  from  Sambu  (Siva)  or  a  corruption  of  Sivan 
padavan  (Siva's  boatmen).  Some  members  of  the  caste 
in  the  Telugu  country  returned  themselves,  at  the 
census,  1901,  as  Sambuni  Reddi  or  Kapu.  According 
to  another  legend,  the  name  is  derived  from  sembu 
padavor  or  copper  boatmen.  Parvatha  Raja,  disguised 
as  a  boatman,  when  sailing  in  a  copper  boat,  threw  out 
his  net  to  catch  fish.  Four  Vedas  were  transformed 
into  nets,  with  which  to  catch  the  rakshasas,  who 
assumed  the  form  of  fishes.  Within  the  nets  a  rishi  was 
also  caught,  and,  getting  angry,  asked  the  boatman 
concerning  his  pedigree.  On  learning  it,  he  cursed  him, 
and  ordained  that  his  descendants  should  earn  their  livino 
by  fishing.  Hence  the  Sembadavans  call  themselves 
Parvatha  Rajavamsam.  Yet  another  legend  states  that 
the  founder  of  the  caste,  while  worshipping  God,  was 
tried  thus.  God  caused  a  large  fish  to  appear  in  the 
water  near  the  spot  at  which  he  was  worshipping. 
Forgetting  all  about  his  prayers,  he  stopped  to  catch  the 
fish,  and  was  cursed  with  the  occupation  of  catching  fish 
for  ever.  According  to  yet  another  account  of  the 
origin  of  the  Sembadavans,  Siva  was  much  pleased 
with  their  ancestors'  devotion  to  him  when  they  lived 
upon  the  sea-shore  by  catching  a  few  fish  with  difficulty, 
and  in  recognition  of  their  piety  furnished  them  with  a 
net,  and  directed  various  other  castes  to  become  fish- 
eaters,  so  that  the  Scmbadavar  might  live  comfortably. 

Of  the  Sembadavans  of  the    North   Arcot  district, 
Mr.   H.  A.  Stuart  writes*  that  they  "act  as  boatmen 

♦  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district. 


SEMBADAVAN   .^.  352 

and  fishers.  They  have  little  opportunity  of  exercising 
the  former  profession,  but  during  heavy  freshes  in  big 
rivers  they  ferry  people  from  bank  to  bank  in  round 
leather-covered  basket  coracles,  which  they  push  along, 
swimming  or  wading  by  the  side,  or  assist  the  timid  to 
ford  by  holding  their  hands.  At  such  times  they  make 
considerable  hauls.  During  the  rest  of  the  year  they 
subsist  by  fishing  in  the  tanks." 

"  The  Sembadavans  of  the  South  Arcot  district," 
Mr.  Francis  writes,*  "are  fresh-water  fishermen  and 
boatmen.  Both  their  occupations  being  of  a  restricted 
character,  they  have  now  in  some  cases  taken  to  agricul- 
ture, weaving,  and  the  hawking  of  salted  sea-fish,  but 
almost  all  of  them  are  poor.  They  make  their  own  nets, 
and,  when  they  have  to  walk  any  distance  for  any 
purpose,  they  often  spin  the  thread  as  they  go  along. 
Their  domestic  priests  are  Panchangi  Brahmans,  and 
these  tie  the  tali  at  weddings,  and  perform  the  purifica- 
tory ceremonies  on  the  sixteenth  day  after  deaths." 

The  Sembadavans  consider  themselves  to  be  superior 
to  Pattanavans,  who  are  sea-fishermen.  They  usually 
take  the  title  Mattan,  Kavandan,  Maniyakkaran,  Paguth- 
thar,  or  Pillai,  Some  have  assumed  the  title  Guha 
Vellala,  to  connect  themselves  with  Guha,  who  rowed 
the  boat  of  Rama  to  Ceylon.  At  the  census,  1901, 
Savalakkaran  {q.v.)  was  returned  as  a  sub-caste. 
Savalalai  or  saval  thadi  is  the  flattened  paddle  for 
rowing  boats.  A  large  number  call  themselves  Pujari, 
(priest),  and  wear  the  lingam  enclosed  in  a  silver 
casket  or  pink  cloth,  and  the  sacred  thread.  It  is  the 
pujari  who  officiates  at  the  temple  services  to  village 
deities.     At  Malayanur,  in  the  South  Arcot  district,  all 

*  Gazetteer  of  the  South  Arcot  district. 


the  Sembadavans  call  themselves  pujari,  and  seem  to 
belong  to  a  single  sept  called  Mukkali  (three-legged). 

Most  of  the  Sembadavans  call  themselves  Saivites, 
but  a  few,  e.g.,  at  Kuppam  in  North  Arcot,  and  other 
places,  say  that  they  are  Vaishnavites,  and  belong  to 
Vishnu  gotram.  Even  among  those  who  claimed  to 
be  Vaishnavites,  a  few  were  seen  with  a  sandal  paste 
(Saivite)  mark  on  the  forehead.  Their  explanation  was 
that  they  were  returning  from  the  fields,  where  they  had 
eaten  their  food.  This  they  must  not  do  without  wearing 
a  religious  emblem,  and  they  had  not  with  them  the 
mirror,  red  powder,  water,  etc.,  necessary  for  making 
the  Vaishnavite  namam  mark.  They  asserted  that  they 
never  take  a  girl  in  marriage  from  Saivite  families 
without  burning  her  tongue  with  a  piece  of  gold,  and 
purifying  her  by  punyavachanam. 

The  Sembadavans  at  Chidambaram  are  all  Saivites, 
and  point  out  with  pride  their  connection  with  the 
temple.  It  appears  that,  on  a  particular  day,  they  are 
deputed  to  carry  the  idol  in  procession  through  the 
streets,  and  their  services  are  paid  for  with  a  modest  fee 
and  a  ball  of  cooked  rice  for  each  person.  Some  respect 
is  shown  to  them  by  the  temple  authorities,  as  the 
goddess,  when  being  carried  in  procession,  is  detained 
for  some  time  in  their  quarters,  and  they  make  presents 
of  female  cloths  to  the  idol. 

The  Sembadavans  have  exogamous  septs,  named 
after  various  heroes,  etc.  The  office  of  Nattan  or  Nat- 
tamaikkaran  (headman)  is  confined  to  a  particular  sept, 
and  is  hereditary.  In  some  places  he  is  assisted  by 
officers  called  Sangathikkar  or  Sangathipillai,  through 
whom,  at  a  council,  the  headman  should  be  addressed. 
At  their  council  meetings,  representatives  of  the  seven 
nadus  (villages),  into  which  the  Sembadavans  of  various 


localities  are  divided,  are  present.  At  Malayanur  these 
nadus  are  replaced  by  seven  exogamous  septs,  viz., 
Devar,  Seppiliyan,  Ethinayakan,  Sangili,  Mayakundali, 
Pattam,  and  Panikkan.  If  a  man  under  trial  pleads  not 
guilty  to  the  charge  brought  against  him,  he  has  to  bear 
the  expenses  of  the  members  of  council.  Sometimes, 
as  a  punishment,  a  man  is  made  to  carry  a  basket  of 
rubbish,  with  tamarind  twigs  as  the  emblem  of  flogging, 
and  a  knife  to  denote  cutting  of  the  tongue.  Women 
are  said  to  be  punished  by  having  to  carry  a  basket  of 
rubbish  and  a  broom  round  the  village. 

Sembadavans  who  are  ferrymen  by  profession  do 
special  worship  to  Ganga,  the  goddess  of  water,  to 
whom  pongal  (rice)  and  goats  are  offered.  It  is  believed 
that  their  immunity  from  death  by  drowning,  caused  by 
the  upsetting  of  their  leather  coracles,  is  due  to  the 
protection  of  the  goddess. 

The  ceremonial  when  a  girl  reaches  puberty  corre- 
sponds to  that  of  various  other  Tamil  castes.  Meat  is 
forbidden,  but  eggs  are  allowed  to  be  eaten.  To  ward 
off  devils  twigs  of  Vitex  Negundo,  margosa  {Melia 
Azadirachta),  and  Eugenia  Jambolana  are  stuck  in  the 
roof.  Sometimes  a  piece  of  iron  is  given  to  the  girl 
to  keep.  During  the  marriage  ceremonies,  a  branch  of 
Erythrina  indica  is  cut,  and  tied,  with  sprays  of  the 
pipal  {Eicus  religiosd)  and  a  piece  of  a  green  bamboo 
culm,  to  one  of  the  twelve  posts,  which  support  the 
marriage  pandal  (booth).  A  number  of  sumangalis 
(married  women)  bring  sand,  and  spread  it  on  the  floor 
near  the  marriage  dais,  with  pots,  two  of  which  are  filled 
with  water,  over  it.  The  bride  and  bridegroom  go 
through  a  ceremony  called  sige  kazhippu,  with  the 
object  of  warding  off  the  evil  eye,  which  consists  in 
pouring  a  few  drops  of  milk  on  their  foreheads  from  a 


fig  or  betel  leaf.  To  their  foreheads  are  tied  small  gold 
or  silver  plates,  called  pattam,  of  which  the  most  con- 
spicuous are  those  tied  by  the  maternal  uncles.  The 
plate  for  the  bridegroom  is  V-shaped  like  a  namam, 
and  that  for  the  bride  like  a  pipal  leaf.  The  bride  and 
bridegroom  go  through  a  mock  ceremony  representative 
of  domestic  life,  and  pot-searching.  Seven  rings  are 
dropped  into  a  pot.  If  the  girl  picks  up  three  of  these, 
her  first-born  will  be  a  girl.  If  the  bridegroom  picks  up 
five,  it  will  be  a  boy.  Married  women  go  in  procession 
to  an  ant-hill,  and  bring  to  the  marriage  booth  a  basket- 
load  of  the  earth,  which  they  heap  up  round  the  posts. 
Offerings  of  balls  of  rice,  cooked  vegetables,  etc.,  are 
then  made.  After  the  wrist-threads  (kankanam)  have 
been  removed,  the  bride  and  bridegroom  go  to  a  tank, 
and  go  through  a  mock  ploughing  ceremony.  In  some 
places,  the  purohits  give  the  bridegroom  a  sacred  thread, 
which  is  finally  thrown  into  a  tank  or  well. 

By  some  Sembadavans  a  ceremony,  called  muthu- 
gunir  kuththal  (pouring  water  on  the  back)  is  per- 
formed in  the  seventh  month  of  pregnancy.  The  woman 
stands  on  the  marriage  dais,  and  red-coloured  water, 
and  lights  are  waved.  Bending  down,  she  places  her 
hands  on  two  big  pots,  and  milk  is  poured  over  her 
back  from  a  betel  leaf  by  all  her  relations. 

The  Vaishnava  Sembadavans  burn,  and  the  Saivites 
bury  their  dead  in  a  sitting  posture.  Fire  is  carried  to 
the  burial-ground  by  the  barber.  In  cases  of  burial 
the  face  is  covered  over  by  a  cloth,  in  which  a  slit  is 
made,  so  that  the  top  of  the  head  and  a  portion  of  the 
forehead  are  exposed.  A  figure  representing  Ganesa 
is  made  on  the  head  with  ashes.  All  present  throw 
sacred  ashes,  and  a  pie  (copper  coin)  into  the  grave, 
which  is  then  filled  in.  While  this  is  being  done,  a 
vi-33  B 


bamboo  stick  is  placed  upright  on  the  head  of  the 
corpse.  On  the  surface  of  the  filled-in  grave  an  oblong 
space  is  cleared,  with  the  bamboo  in  the  centre.  The 
bamboo  is  then  removed,  and  water  poured  through  the 
hole  left  by  it,  and  a  lingam  made,  and  placed  over  the 

At  Malayanur  a  ceremony  called  mayana  or  smasana 
kollai  (looting  the  burning-ground)  is  performed.  The 
village  of  Malayanur  is  famous  for  its  Ankalamman 
temple,  and,  during  the  festival  which  takes  place 
immediately  after  the  Sivaratri,  some  thousands  of 
people  congregate  at  the  temple,  which  is  near  the 
burning-ground.  In  front  of  the  stone  idol  is  a  large 
ant-hill,  on  which  two  copper  idols  are  placed,  and  a  brass 
vessel,  called  korakkudai,  is  placed  at  the  base  of  the 
hill,  to  receive  the  various  votive  offerings.  Early  in 
the  day,  the  pujari  (a  Sembadavan)  goes  to  a  tank,  and 
brings  a  decorated  pot,  called  pungkaragam,  to  the 
temple.  Offerings  are  made  to  a  new  pot,  and,  after  a 
sheep  has  been  sacrificed,  the  pot  is  filled  with  water,  and 
carried  on  the  head  of  the  pujari,  who  shows  signs 
of  possession  by  the  deity,  through  the  streets  of  the 
village  to  the  temple,  dancing  wildly,  and  never  touching 
the  pot  with  his  hands.  It  is  believed  that  the  pot 
remains  on  the  head,  without  falling,  through  the  influence 
of  the  goddess.  When  the  temple  is  reached,  another 
pujari  takes  up  a  framework,  to  which  are  tied  a  head 
made  of  rice  flour,  with  three  faces  coloured  white, 
black  and  red,  representing  the  head  of  Brahma  which 
was  cut  off  by  Siva,  and  a  pot  with  three  faces  on  it. 
The  eyes  of  the  flour  figure  are  represented  by  hen's 
eggs.  The  pot  is  placed  beneath  the  head.  Carrying 
the  framework,  and  accompanied  by  music,  the  pujari 
goes  in  procession  to  the  burning-ground,  and,  after 



offerings  of  a  sheep,  arrack,  betel  and  fruits  have  been 
made  to  the  head  of  Brahma,  it  is  thrown  away.  Close 
to  the  spot  where  corpses  are  burnt,  the  pujaris  place  on 
the  ground  five  conical  heaps  (representing  Ganesa), 
made  of  the  ashes  of  a  corpse.  To  these  are  offered  the 
various  articles  brought  by  those  who  have  made  vows, 
which  include  cooked  pulses,  bangles,  betel,  parts  of  the 
human  body  modelled  in  rice  flour,  etc.  The  offerings 
are  piled  up  in  a  heap,  which  is  said  to  reach  ten  or 
twelve  feet  in  height.  Soon  afterwards,  the  people 
assembled  fall  on  the  heap,  and  carry  off  whatever  they 
can  secure.  Hundreds  of  persons  are  said  to  become 
possessed,  eat  the  ashes  of  the  corpses,  and  bite  any 
human  bones,  which  they  may  come  across.  The  ashes 
and  earth  are  much  prized,  as  they  are  supposed  to  drive 
away  evil  spirits,  and  secure  offspring  to  barren  women. 
Some  persons  make  a  vow  that  they  will  disguise  them- 
selves as  Siva,  for  which  purpose  they  smear  their  faces 
with  ashes,  put  on  a  cap  decorated  with  feathers  of  the 
crow,  egret,  and  peacock,  and  carry  in  one  hand  a  brass 
vessel  called  Brahma  kapalam.  Round  their  waist  they 
tie  a  number  of  strings,  to  which  are  attached  rags  and 
feathers.  Instead  of  the  cap,  Paraiyans  and  Valluvans 
wear  a  crown.  The  brass  vessel,  cap,  and  strings  are 
said  to  be  kept  by  the  pujari,  and  hired  out  for  a  rupee 
or  two  per  head.  The  festival  is  said  to  be  based  on  the 
following  legend.  Siva  and  Brahma  had  the  same 
number  of  faces.  During  the  swayamvaram,  Parvati, 
the  wife  of  Siva,  found  it  difficult  to  recognise  her  husband, 
so  Siva  cut  off  Brahma's  head.  The  head  stuck  on  to 
Siva's  hand,  and  he  could  not  get  rid  of  it.  To  get  rid 
of  the  skull,  and  throw  off  the  crime  of  murder,  Siva 
wandered  far  and  wide,  and  came  to  the  burning-ground 
at  Malayanur,  where  various  bhuthas  (devils)  were  busy 


eating  the  remains  of  corpses.  Parvati  also  arrived  there, 
and  failed  to  recognise  Siva.  Thereon  the  skull  laughed, 
and  fell  to  the  ground.  The  bhuthas  were  so  delighted 
that  they  put  various  kinds  of  herbs  into  a  big  vessel,  and 
made  of  them  a  sweet  liquor,  by  drinking  which  Siva 
was  absolved  from  his  crime.  For  this  reason  arrack  is 
offered  to  him  at  the  festival.  A  very  similar  rite  is 
carried  out  at  Walajapet.  A  huge  figure,  representing 
the  goddess,  is  made  at  the  burning-ground  out  of  the 
ashes  of  burnt  bodies  mixed  with  water,  the  eyes  being 
made  of  hen's  eggs  painted  black  in  the  centre  to  repre- 
sent the  pupils.  It  is  covered  over  with  a  yellow  cloth, 
and  a  sweet-smelling  powder  (kadampam)  is  sprinkled 
over  it.  The  following  articles,  which  are  required  by 
a  married  woman,  are  placed  on  it : — a  comb,  pot  con- 
taining colour-powder,  glass  bangles,  rolls  of  palm  leaf 
for  dilating  the  ear-lobes,  and  a  string  of  black  beads. 
Devotees  present  as  offerings  limes,  plantains,  arrack, 
toddy,  sugar-cane,  and  various  kinds  of  cooked  grains,  and 
other  eatables.  The  goddess  is  taken  in  procession  from 
her  shrine  to  the  burning-ground,  and  placed  in  front  of 
the  figure.  The  pujari  (fisherman),  who  wears  a  special 
dress  for  the  occasion,  walks  in  front  of  the  idol,  carry- 
ing in  one  hand  a  brass  cup  representing  the  skull  which 
Siva  carried  in  his  hand,  and  in  the  other  a  piece  of 
human  skull  bone,  which  he  bites  and  chews  as  the 
procession  moves  onward.  When  the  burning-ground 
is  reached,  he  performs  puja  by  breaking  a  cocoanut,  and 
going  round  the  figure  with  lighted  camphor  in  his  hand. 
Goats  and  fowls  are  sacrificed.  A  woman,  possessed 
by  a  devil,  seats  herself  at  the  feet  of  the  figure,  and 
becomes  wild  and  agitated.  The  puja  completed,  the 
assembled  multitude  fall  on  the  figure,  and  carry  off  what- 
ever they  can  grab  of  the  articles  placed  on  it,  which 

359  SEMMAN 

are  believed  to  possess  healing  and  other  virtues.  They 
also  smear  their  bodies  with  the  ashes.  The  pujari,  and 
some  of  the  devotees,  then  become  possessed,  and  run 
about  the  burning-ground,  seizing  and  gnawing  partly 
burnt  bones.  Tradition  runs  to  the  effect  that,  in  olden 
times,  they  used  to  eat  the  dead  bodies,  if  they  came 
across  any.  And  the  people  are  so  afraid  of  their  doing 
this  that,  if  a  death  should  occur,  the  corpse  is  not  taken 
to  the  burning-ground  till  the  festival  is  over.  "  In 
some  cases,"  Herbert  Spencer  writes,*  "  parts  of  the 
dead  are  swallowed  by  the  living,  who  seek  thus  to 
inspire  themselves  with  the  good  qualities  of  the  dead  ; 
and  we  saw  that  the  dead  are  supposed  to  be  honoured 
by  this  act." 

Sembunadu.^The  name,  meaning  the  Pandya 
country,  of  a  sub-division  of  Maravan. 

Semmadi.— -A  Teluguform  of  Sembadavan. 

Semman. — The  Semmans  are  described,  in  the 
Madras  Census  Report,  1891,  as  "an  insignificant  caste 
of  Tamil  leather-workers,  found  only  in  the  districts  of 
Madura  and  Tinnevelly  (and  in  the  Pudukottai  State). 
Though  they  have  returned  tailor  and  lime-burner  as 
their  occupations,  the  original  occupation  was  undoubt- 
edly leather-work.  In  the  Tamil  dictionaries  Semman 
is  explained  as  a  leather-worker,  and  a  few  of  them, 
living  in  out-of-the  way  villages,  have  returned  shoe- 
making  as  their  occupation.  The  Semmans  are,  in 
fact,  a  sub-division  of  the  Paraiyans,  and  they  must  have 
been  the  original  leather-workers  of  the  Tamil  tribes. 
The  immigrant  Chakkiliyans  have,  however,  now  taken 
their  place."  The  Semmans  are  described,  in  the 
Madura  Manual,  as  burning  and  selling  lime  for  building 

Principles  of  Sociology. 

SEM  PULI  360 

purposes.  In  the  Census  Report,  1901,  the  caste  is  said 
to  have  "  two  hypergamous  sub-divisions,  Tondaman 
and  Tolmestri,  and  men  of  the  former  take  wives  from 
the  latter,  but  men  of  the  latter  may  not  marry  girls  of 
the  former." 

Girls  are  married  after  puberty,  and  divorce  and 
remarriage  are  freely  allowed.  As  the  caste  is  a  pol- 
luting one,  the  members  thereof  are  not  allowed  to 
use  village  wells,  or  enter  caste  Hindu  temples.  The 
caste  title  is  Mestri. 

Sem  Puli  (red  tiger). — A  section  of  Kalian. 

Senaikkudaiyan.-— The  Senaikkudaiyans  are  betel 
vine  {Piper  Betel)  cultivators  and  betel  leaf  sellers,  who 
are  found  in  large  numbers  in  the  Tinnevelly  district, 
and  to  a  smaller  extent  in  other  parts  of  the  Tamil 
country.  The  original  name  of  the  caste  is  said  to  have 
been  Elai  (leaf)  Vaniyan,  for  which  the  more  high- 
sounding  Senaikkudaiyan  (owner  of  an  army)  or  Senait- 
talavan  (chief  of  an  army)  has  been  substituted.  They 
also  called  themselves  Kodikkal  Pillaimar,  or  Pillaimars 
who  cultivate  betel  gardens,  and  have  adopted  the  title 
Pillai.  The  titles  Muppan  and  Chetti  are  also  borne  by 
members  of  the  caste. 

It  is  recorded,  in  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901, 
that  "  the  priests  of  the  Senaikkudaiyans  are  Vellalas, 
and  occasionally  Brahmans.  They  do  not  wear  the 
sacred  thread.  They  burn  their  dead,  and  perform 
annual  sraddhas  (memorial  services).  In  1891,  follow- 
ing the  Tanjore  Manual,  they  were  wrongly  classed 
with  Vaniyans  or  oil-mongers,  but  they  are  superior  to 
these  in  social  position,  and  are  even  said  to  rank  above 
Nattukottai  Chettis.  Yet  it  is  stated  that,  in  Tanjore, 
Paraiyans  will  not  enter  the  Senaikkudaiyans'  houses  to 
carry  away  dead  cattle,  and  ordinary  barbers  will  not 


serve  them,  and  food  prepared  by  them  will  not  be 
accepted  even  by  barbers  or  washermen.  Somewhat 
similar  anomalies  occur  in  the  case  of  the  Kammalas, 
and  the  explanation  may  be  that  these  two  castes 
belonged  to  the  old  left-hand  faction,  while  the  Pariyans, 
and  the  barbers  and  washermen  belonged  to  the  right- 
hand.  Paraiyans  similarly  will  not  eat  in  the  houses  of 
Beri  Chettis,  who  were  of  the  left-hand  faction." 

Senapati.— "A  title,  denoting  commander-in-chief, 
said  to  be  sold  to  Khoduras,  and  also  occurring  as  a  title 
of  other  Oriya  castes,  e.g.^  Kurumo  and  Ronguni. 
Among  the  Rongunis,  the  title  is  practically  an  exoga- 
mous  sept.  Senapati  is  further  a  name  for  Sales  (Telugu 
weavers),  the  headman  among  whom  is  called  Pedda 
(big)  Senapati.  The  headman  of  the  Salapu  weavers, 
who  do  not  intermarry  with  the  Sales,  is  also  styled 
Senapati.     It  is  also  a  title  of  the  Raja  of  Sandur. 

Sendalai  (red-headed  man). — Returned  as  a  sub- 
division of  Konga  Vellalas  at  times  of  census. 

Sengundam  (red  dagger). — A  synonym,  connected 
with  a  caste  legend,  of  Kaikolan. 

Seniga  (Bengal  gram  :  Cicer  arietinum). — An 
exogamous  sept  of  Medara  and  Pedakanti  Kapu. 

Seniyan. — The  name  Seniyan  is  generally  used  to 
denote  the  Kama  Sale  weavers,  but  at  Conjeeveram  it 
is  applied  to  Canarese  Devangas.  Elsewhere  Canarese 
Devangas  belong  to  the  left-hand  section,  but  at  Conjee- 
veram they  are  classed  with  the  right-hand  section. 
Like  other  Devangas,  the  Conjeeveram  Seniyans  have 
exogamous  house-names  and  gotras,  which  are  interest- 
ing inasmuch  as  new  names  have  been,  in  recent 
times,  substituted  for  the  original  ones,  e.g.,  Chandra- 
sekhara  rishi,  Nilakanta  rishi,  Markandeya  rishi.  The 
Devangas  claim   Markandeya    as  their  ancestor.     The 

SERVAI  362 

old  house-name  Picchi  Kaya  (water-melon  :  Ciirullus 
vulgaris)  has  been  changed  to  Desimarada,  and  eating 
the  melon  is  tabu.  A  list  of  the  house-names  and  gotras 
is  kept  by  the  headman  for  reference.  The  Conjee- 
veram  Seniyans  are  Lingayats,  but  are  not  so  strict  as  the 
Canarese  Lingayats.  Jangams  are  respected,  but  rank 
after  their  own  stone  lingams.  In  the  observance  of 
death  rites,  a  staunch  Lingayat  should  not  bathe,  and 
must  partake  of  the  food  offered  to  the  corpse.  These 
customs  are  not  observed  by  the  Seniyans.  Until  quite 
recently,  a  man  might  tie  a  tali  (marriage  badge) 
secretly  on  a  girl's  neck,  with  the  consent  of  the  head- 
man and  his  relatives,  and  the  girl  could  then  be  given 
in  marriage  to  no  other  man.  This  custom  is  said  to 
have  been  very  common,  especially  in  the  case  of  a 
man's  maternal  uncle's  or  paternal  aunt's  daughter.  At 
Conjeeveram  it  was  extended  to  girls  not  so  related,  and 
a  caste  council  was  held,  at  which  an  agreement  was 
drawn  up  that  the  secret  tali-tying  was  forbidden,  and, 
if  performed,  was  not  to  be  regarded  as  binding.  The 
priest  of  the  Conjeeveram  Seniyans  is  a  Vellala  Panda- 
ram,  who  is  the  head  of  the  Tirugnana  Sambanda  Murti 
mutt  (religious  institution)  at  Conjeeveram. 

Servai.— Servai,  meaning  service,  has  been  recorded 
as  the  title  of  Agamudaiyans  and  Valaiyans.  Servai- 
karan  or  Servaigaran  (captain  or  commander)  is  the 
title  of  Agamudaiyan,  Ambalakaran,  Kalian,  Maravan, 
and  Parivaram.  It  further  occurs  as  the  name  for  a 
headman  among  the  Vallambans,  and  it  has  been 
adopted  as  a  false  caste  name  by  some  criminal  Koravas 
in  the  south. 

Serve  gar  a. —The  Servegaras  are  a  caste  found  in 
South  Canara,  and  to  a  small  extent  in  Bellary.  "  They 
are  said  to  be  a  branch  of  the  Konkan  Marathis  of  Goa, 

363  SHANAN 

from  whence  they  were  invited  by  the  Lingayat  kings  of 
Nagara  to  serve  as  soldiers  and  to  defend  their  forts 
(kote),  whence  the  alternative  name  of  Koteyava  (or 
Kotegara).  Another  name  for  them  is  Ramakshatri. 
The  mother-tongue  of  the  Servegaras  of  South  Canara 
is  Canarese,  while  their  brethren  in  the  north  speak 
Konkani.  They  have  now  taken  to  cultivation,  but 
some  are  employed  in  the  Revenue  and  Police  depart- 
ments as  peons  (orderlies)  and  constables,  and  a  few 
are  shopkeepers.  The  name  Servegara  is  derived  from 
the  Canarese  serve,  an  army.  In  religion  they  are 
Hindus,  and,  like  most  West  Coast  castes,  are  equally 
partial  to  the  worship  of  Siva  and  Vishnu.  They  wear 
the  sacred  thread.  Karadi  Brahmans  are  their  priests, 
and  they  owe  allegiance  to  the  head  of  the  Sringeri 
mutt.  Their  girls  are  married  before  puberty,  and  the 
remarriage  of  widows  is  neither  allowed  nor  practiced. 
Divorce  is  permitted  only  on  the  ground  of  the  unchastity 
of  the  wife.  The  body  of  a  child  under  three  years  is 
buried,  and  that  of  any  person  exceeding  that  age  is 
cremated.  They  eat  flesh,  but  do  not  drink.  Their 
titles  are  Nayak,  Aiya,  Rao,  and  Sheregar.'"^  In  the 
Census  Report,  1901,  Bomman  Valekara  is  returned  as 
a  synonym,  and  Vilayakara  as  a  sub-caste  of  Servegara. 

Setti.— 5^^  Chetti. 

Settukkaran.— A  castle  title,  meaning  economical 
people,  sometimes  used  by  Devangas  instead  of  Setti 
or  Chetti. 

Sevagha  Vritti.— A  sub-division  of  Kaikolan. 

Sevala  (service). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Golla. 

Shanan.— The  great  toddy-drawing  caste  of  the 
Tamil  country,  which,  a  few  years  ago,  came  into  special 

•  Manual  of  the  South  Canara  district. 

SHANAN  364 

prominence  owing  to  the  Tinnevelly  riots  in  1899. 
"These  were,"  the  Inspector-General  of  Police  writes,* 
"  due  to  the  pretensions  of  the  Shanans  to  a  much  higher 
position  in  the  religio-social  scale  than  the  other  castes 
are  willing  to  allow.  Among  other  things,  they  claimed 
admission  to  Hindu  temples,  and  the  manager  of  the 
Visvanatheswara  temple  at  Sivakasi  decided  to  close  it. 
This  partial  victory  of  the  Shanans  was  keenly  resented 
by  their  opponents,  of  whom  the  most  active  were  the 
Maravans.  Organised  attacks  were  made  on  a  number 
of  the  Shanan  villages ;  the  inhabitants  were  assailed ; 
houses  were  burnt ;  and  property  was  looted.  The  most 
serious  occurrence  was  the  attack  on  Sivakasi  by  a  body 
of  over  five  thousand  Maravans.  Twenty -three  murders, 
102  dacoities,  and  many  cases  of  arson  were  registered 
in  connection  with  the  riots  in  Sivakasi,  Chinniapuram, 
and  other  places.  Of  1,958  persons  arrested,  552  were 
convicted,  7  being  sentenced  to  death.  One  of  the 
ring-leaders  hurried  by  train  to  distant  Madras,  and 
made  a  clever  attempt  to  prove  an  alibi  by  signing  his 
name  in  the  Museum  visitor's  book.  During  the  dis- 
turbance some  of  the  Shanans  are  said  to  have  gone 
into  the  Muhammadan  fold.  The  men  shaved  their 
heads,  and  grew  beards  ;  and  the  women  had  to  make 
sundry  changes  in  their  dress.  And,  in  the  case  of 
boys,  the  operation  of  circumcision  was  performed." 

The  immediate  bone  of  contention  at  the  time  of 
the  Tinnevelly  riots  was,  the  Census  Superintendent, 
1901,  writes,  **  the  claim  of  the  Shanans  to  enter  the 
Hindu  temples,  in  spite  of  the  rules  in  the  Agama 
Shastras  that  toddy-drawers  are  not  to  be  allowed  into 
them  ;  but  the  pretensions  of  the  community  date  back 

*  Administration  Report,  1899. 

3^5  SHANAN 

from  1858,  when  a  riot  occurred  in  Travancore,  because 
female  Christian  converts  belonging  to  it  gave  up  the 
caste  practice  of  going  about  without  an  upper  cloth." 
On  this  point  Mr.  G.  T.  Mackenzie  informs  us  ^  that 
"in  the  first  quarter  of  the  nineteenth  century,  the 
female  converts  to  Christianity  in  the  extreme  south 
ventured,  contrary  to  the  old  rules  for  the  lower  castes, 
to  clothe  themselves  above  the  waist.  This  innovation 
was  made  the  occasion  for  threats,  violence,  and  series 
of  disturbances.  Similar  disturbances  arose  from  the 
same  cause  nearly  thirty  years  later,  and,  in  1859, 
Sir  Charles  Trevelyan,  Governor  of  Madras,  interfered, 
and  granted  permission  to  the  women  of  the  lower  castes 
to  wear  a  cloth  over  the  breasts  and  shoulders.  The 
following  proclamation  was  issued  by  the  Maharaja  of 
Travancore  : — We  hereby  proclaim  that  there  is  no 
objection  tg  Shanan  women  either  putting  on  a  jacket 
like  the  Christian  Shanan  women,  or  to  Shanan  women 
of  all  creeds  dressing  in  coarse  cloth,  and  tying  them- 
selves round  with  it  as  the  Mukkavattigal  (fisherwomen) 
do,  or  to  their  covering  their  bosoms  in  any  manner 
whatever,  but  not  like  women  of  high  castes."  "  Shortly 
after  1858,  pamphlets  began  to  be  written  and  published 
by  people  of  the  caste,  setting  out  their  claims  to  be 
Kshatriyas.  In  1874  they  endeavoured  to  establish  a 
right  to  enter  the  great  Minakshi  temple  at  Madura, 
but  failed,  and  they  have  since  claimed  to  be  allowed  to 
wear  the  sacred  thread,  and  to  have  palanquins  at  their 
weddings.  They  say  they  are  descended  from  the  Chera, 
Chola  and  Pandya  kings  ;  they  have  styled  themselves 
Kshatriyas  in  legal  papers ;  labelled  their  schools 
Kshatriya  academy  ;  got  Brahmans  of  the  less  particular 

*  Christianity  in  Travancore,  1901. 

SHANAN  366 

kind  to  do  purohit's  work  for  them  ;  had  poems  composed 
on  their  kingly  origin ;  gone  through  a  sort  of  incom- 
plete parody  of  the  ceremony  of  investiture  with  the 
sacred  thread  ;  talked  much  but  ignorantly  of  their 
gotras  ;  and  induced  needy  persons  to  sign  documents 
agreeing  to  carry  them  in  palanquins  on  festive  occa- 
sions." [During  my  stay  at  Nazareth  in  Tinnevelly,  for 
the  purpose  of  taking  measurements  of  the  Shanans,  I 
received  a  visit  from  some  elders  of  the  community  from 
Kuttam,  who  arrived  in  palanquins,  and  bearing  weapons 
of  old  device.]  Their  boldest  stroke  was  to  aver  that 
the  coins  commonly  known  as  Shanans'  cash  were  struck 
by  sovereign  ancestors  of  the  caste.  The  author  of  a 
pamphlet  entitled  '  Bishop  Caldwell  and  the  Tinnevelly 
Shanars '  states  that  he  had  met  with  men  of  all  castes 
who  say  that  they  have  seen  the  true  Shanar  coin  with 
their  own  eyes,  and  that  a  Eurasian  gentleman  from 
Bangalore  testified  to  his  having  seen  a  true  Shanar 
coin  at  Bangalore  forty  years  ago.  The  coin  referred 
to  is  the  gold  Venetian  sequin,  which  is  still  found  in 
considerable  numbers  in  the  south,  and  bears  the  names 
of  the  Doges  (Paul  Rainer,  Aloy  Mocen,  Ludov  Manin, 
etc.)  and  a  cross,  which  the  Natives  mistake  for  a  toddy 
palm.  "  If,"  Mr.  Fawcett  writes,*  "  one  asks  the 
ordinary  Malayali  (native  of  Malabar)  what  persons  are 
represented  on  the  sequin,  one  gets  for  answer  that  they 
are  Rama  and  Sita :  between  them  a  cocoanut  tree. 
Every  Malayali  knows  what  an  Amada  is  ;  it  is  a  real 
or  imitation  Venetian  sequin.  I  have  never  heard  any 
explanation  of  the  word  Amada  in  Malabar.  The 
following  comes  from  Tinnevelly.  Amada  was  the  con- 
sort of  Bhagavati,  and  he  suddenly  appeared  one  day 

♦  Madras  Museum  Bull.,  Ill,  3,  1901. 

3^7  SHANAN 

before  a  Shanar,  and  demanded  food.  The  Shanar  said 
he  was  a  poor  man  with  nothing  to  offer  but  toddy, 
which  he  gave  in  a  palmyra  leaf.  Amada  drank  the 
toddy,  and  performing  a  mantram  (consecrated  formula) 
over  the  leaf,  it  turned  into  gold  coins,  which  bore  on 
one  side  the  pictures  of  Amada,  the  Shanar,  and  the 
tree,  and  these  he  gave  to  the  Shanar  as  a  reward  for 
his  willingness  to  assist  him." 

In  a  petition  to  myself  from  certain  Shanans  of 
Nazareth,  signed  by  a  very  large  number  of  the  com- 
munity, and  bearing  the  title  "  Short  account  of  the 
Cantras  or  Tamil  Xatras,  the  original  but  down-trodden 
royal  race  of  Southern  India,"  they  write  as  follows. 
"  We  humbly  beg  to  say  that  we  are  the  descendants  of 
the  Pandya  or  Dravida  Xatra  race,  who,  shortly  after 
the  universal  deluge  of  Noah,  first  disafforested  and 
colonized  this  land  of  South  India  under  the  guidance 
of  Agastya  Muni.  The  whole  world  was  destroyed  by 
flood  about  B.C.  3100  (Dr.  Hale's  calculation),  when 
Noah,  otherwise  called  Vaivasvata-manu  or  Satyavrata, 
was  saved  with  his  family  of  seven  persons  in  an  ark  or 
covered  ship,  which  rested  upon  the  highest  mountain 
of  the  Aryavarta  country.  Hence  the  whole  earth  was 
rapidly  replenished  by  his  descendants.  One  of  his 
grandsons  (nine  great  Prajapatis)  was  Atri,  whose  son 
Candra  was  the  ancestor  of  the  noblest  class  of  the 
Xatras  ranked  above  the  Brahmans,  and  the  first 
illustrious  monarch  of  the  post-diluvian  world." 

"  Apparently,"  the  Census  Superintendent  continues, 
•'judging  from  the  Shanan's  own  published  statements 
of  their  case,  they  rest  their  claims  chiefly  upon  etymo- 
logical derivations  of  their  caste  name  Shanan,  and  of 
Nadan  and  Gramani,  their  two  usual  titles.  Caste  titles 
and   names   are,   however,  of  recent  origin,  and   little 

SHANAN  368 

can  be  inferred  from  them,  whatever  their  meaning  may 
be  shown  to  be.  Brahmans,  for  example,  appear  to 
have  borne  the  titles  of  Pillai  and  Mudali,  which  are 
now  only  used  by  Sudras,  and  the  Nayak  kings,  on 
the  other  hand,  called  themselves  Aiyar,  which  is  now 
exclusively  the  title  of  Saivite  Brahmans.  To  this  day 
the  cultivating  Vellalas,  the  weaving  Kaik5lars,  and  the 
semi-civilised  hill  tribe  of  the  Jatapus  use  equally  the 
title  of  Mudali,  and  the  Balijas  and  Telagas  call  them- 
selves Rao,  which  is  properly  the  title  of  Mahratta 
Brahmans.  Regarding  the  derivation  of  the  words 
Shanan,  Nadan  and  Gramani,  much  ingenuity  has  been 
exercised.  Shanan  is  not  found  in  the  earlier  Tamil 
literature  at  all.  In  the  inscriptions  of  Rajaraja  Ch5la 
(A.D.  984-1013)  toddy-drawers  are  referred  to  as  Iluvans. 
According  to  Pingalandai,  a  dictionary  of  the  loth  or 
nth  century,  the  names  of  the  toddy-drawer  castes  are 
Palaiyar,  Tuvasar,  and  Paduvar.  To  these  the  Chuda- 
mani  Nikandu,  a  Tamil  dictionary  of  the  i6th  century, 
adds  Saundigar.  Apparently,  therefore,  the  Sanskrit 
word  Saundigar  must  have  been  introduced  (probably  by 
the  Brahmans)  between  the  nth  and  i6th  centuries,  and 
is  a  Sanskrit  rendering  of  the  word  Iluvan.  From 
Saundigar  to  Shanan  is  nqt  a  long  step  in  the  corruption 
of  words.  The  Shanans  say  that  Shanan  is  derived 
from  the  Tamil  word  Sanrar  or  Sanror,  which  means  the 
learned  or  the  noble.  But  it  does  not  appear  that 
the  Shanans  were  ever  called  Sanrar  or  Sanror  in  any  of 
the  Tamil  works.  The  two  words  Nadan  and  Gramani 
mean  the  same  thing,  namely,  ruler  of  a  country  or  of 
a  village,  the  former  being  a  Tamil,  and  the  latter  a 
Sanskrit  word.  Nadan,  on  the  other  hand,  means  a 
man  who  lives  in  the  country,  as  opposed  to  Uran,  the 
man  who  resides  in  a  village.      The  title  of  the  caste  is 

3^9  SHAnAn 

Nadan,  and  it  seems  most  probable  that  It  refers  to  the 
fact  that  the  Iluvan  ancestors  of  the  caste  lived  outside 
the  villages.  (South  Indian  Inscriptions,  vol.  II,  part 
I.)  But,  even  if  Nadan  and  Gramani  both  mean  rulers, 
it  does  not  give  those  who  bear  these  titles  any  claim 
to  be  Kshatriyas.  If  it  did,  all  the  descendants  of  the 
many  South  Indian  Poligars,  or  petty  chiefs,  would  be 

The  Census  Superintendent,  1891,  states  that  the 
*'  Shanans  are  in  social  position  usually  placed  only  a 
little  above  the  Pallas  and  the  Paraiyans,  and  are  consi- 
dered to  be  one  of  the  polluting  castes,  but  of  late  many 
of  them  have  put  forward  a  claim  to  be  considered 
Kshatriyas,  and  at  least  24,000  of  them  appear  as 
Kshatriyas  in  the  caste  tables.  This  is,  of  course, 
absurd,  as  there  is  no  such  thing  as  a  Dravidian  Kshat- 
riya.  But  it  is  by  no  means  certain  that  the  Shanans 
were  not  at  one  time  a  warlike  tribe,  for  we  find  traces 
of  a  military  occupation  among  several  toddy-drawing 
castes  of  the  south,  such  as  the  Billavas  (bowmen), 
Halepaik  (old  foot  soldiers),  Kumarapaik  (junior  foot). 
Even  the  Kadamba  kings  of  Mysore  are  said  to  have 
been  toddy-drawers.  *  The  Kadamba  tree  appears  to  be 
one  of  the  palms,  from  which  toddy  is  extracted.  Toddy- 
drawing  is  the  special  occupation  of  the  several  primitive 
tribes  spread  over  the  south-west  of  India,  and  bearing 
different  names  in  various  parts.  They  were  employed 
by  former  rulers  as  foot-soldiers  and  bodyguards,  being 
noted  for  their  fidelity.*  '  The  word  Shanan  is  ordinarily 
derived  from  Tamil  saru,  meaning  toddy  ;  but  a  learned 
missionary  derives  it  from  san  (a  span)  and  nar  (fibre 
or  string),  that  is  the  noose,  one  span  in  length,  used 

•  Rice.     Mysore  Inscriptions,  p.  33. 

SHANAN  370 

by  the  Shanans  in  climbing  palm-trees."  The  latter 
derivation  is  also  given  by  Vellalas. 

It  is  worthy  of  note  that  the  Tiyans,  or  Malabar 
toddy-drawers,  addressione  another,  and  are  addressed 
by  the  lower  classes  as  Shener,  which  is  probably  another 
form  of  Shanar.* 

The  whole  story  of  the  claims  and  pretensions  of  the 
Shanans  is  set  out  at  length  in  the  judgment  in  the 
Kamudi  temple  case  (1898)  which  was  heard  on  appeal 
before  the  High  Court  of  Madras.  And  I  may  appro- 
priately quote  from  the  judgment.  "  There  is  no  sort 
of  proof,  nothing,  we  may  say,  that  even  suggests  a 
probability  that  the  Shanars  are  descendants  from  the 
Kshatriya  or  warrior  castes  of  Hindus,  or  from  the 
Pandiya,  Chola  or  Chera  race  of  kings.  Nor  is  there 
any  distinction  to  be  drawn  between  the  Nadars  and  the 
Shanars.  Shanar  is  the  general  name  of  the  caste,  just 
as  Vellala  and  Maravar  designate  castes.  '  Nadar  '  is  a 
mere  title,  more  or  less  honorific,  assumed  by  certain 
members  or  families  of  the  caste,  just  as  Brahmins  are 
called  Aiyars,  Aiyangars,  and  Raos.  All  '  Nadars '  are 
Shanars  by  caste,  unless  indeed  they  have  abandoned 
caste,  as  many  of  them  have  by  becoming  Christians. 
The  Shanars  have,  as  a  class,  from  time  immemorial, 
been  devoted  to  the  cultivation  of  the  palmyra  palm,  and 
to  the  collection  of  the  juice,  and  manufacture  of  liquor 
from  it.  There  are  no  grounds  whatever  for  regarding 
them  as  of  Aryan  origin.  Their  worship  was  a  form  of 
demonology,  and  their  position  in  general  social  estima- 
tion appears  to  have  been  just  above  that  of  Pallas, 
Pariahs,  and  Chucklies  (Chakkiliyans),  who  are  on  all 
hands  regarded  as  unclean,  and  prohibited  from  the  use 

*  Madras  Census  Report,  1901. 

371  SHANAN 

of  the  Hindu  temples,  and  below  that  of  Vellalas,  Mara- 
vans,  and  other  classes  admittedly  free  to  worship  in 
the  Hindu  temples.  In  process  of  time,  many  of  the 
Shanars  took  to  cultivating,  trade,  and  money-lending, 
and  to-day  there  is  a  numerous  and  prosperous  body 
of  Shanars,  who  have  no  immediate  concern  with  the 
immemorial  calling  of  their  caste.  In  many  villages 
they  own  much  of  the  land,  and  monopolise  the  bulk  of 
the  trade  and  wealth.  With  the  increase  of  wealth  they 
have,  not  unnaturally,  sought  for  social  recognition,  and 
to  be  treated  on  a  footing  of  equality  in  religious  matters. 
The  conclusion  of  the  Sub-Judge  is  that,  according  to 
the  Agama  Shastras  which  are  received  as  authoritative 
by  worshippers  of  Siva  in  the  Madura  district,  entry  into 
a  temple,  where  the  ritual  prescribed  by  these  Shastras 
is  observed,  is  prohibited  to  all  those  whose  profession 
is  the  manufacture  of  intoxicating  liquor,  and  the  climb- 
ing of  palmyra  and  cocoanut  trees.  No  argument  was 
addressed  to  us  to  show  that  this  finding  is  incorrect,  and 
we  see  no  reason  to  think  that  it  is  so  .  .  .  .  No 
doubt  many  of  the  Shanars  have  abandoned  their  heredi- 
tary occupation,  and  have  won  for  themselves  by  educa- 
tion, industry  and  frugality,  respectable  positions  as 
traders  and  merchants,  and  even  as  vakils  (law  pleaders) 
and  clerks ;  and  it  is  natural  to  feel  sympathy  for  their 
efforts  to  obtain  social  recognition,  and  to  rise  to  what  is 
regarded  as  a  higher  form  of  religious  worship  ;  but  such 
sympathy  will  not  be  increased  by  unreasonable  and 
unfounded  pretensions,  and,  in  the  effort  to  rise,  the 
Shanars  must  not  invade  the  established  rights  of  other 
castes.  They  have  temples  of  their  own,  and  are  numer- 
ous enough,  and  strong  enough  in  wealth  and  education, 
to  rise  along  their  own  lines,  and  without  appropriating 
the  institutions  or  infringing  the  rights  of  others,  and  in 
vi-24  B 

shanan  372 

so  doing  they  will  have  the  sympathy  of  all  right-minded 
men,  and,  if  necessary,  the  protection  of  the  Courts." 

In  a  note  on  the  Shanans,  the  Rev.  J.  Sharrock 
writes  ^  that  they  "  have  risen  enormously  in  the  social 
scale  by  their  eagerness  for  education,  by  their  large 
adoption  of  the  freedom  of  Christianity,  and  by  their 
thrifty  habits.  Many  of  them  have  forced  themselves 
ahead  of  the  Maravars  by  sheer  force  of  character. 
They  have  still  to  learn  that  the  progress  of  a  nation,  or 
a  caste,  does  not  depend  upon  the  interpretation  of  words, 
or  the  assumption  of  a  title,  but  on  the  character  of  the' 
individuals  that  compose  it.  Evolutions  are  hindered 
rather  than  advanced  by  such  unwise  pretensions  result- 
ing in  violence  ;  but  evolutions  resulting  from  intellectual 
and  social  development  are  quite  irresistible,  if  any  caste 
will  continue  to  advance  by  its  own  efforts  in  the  path 
of  freedom  and  progress." 

Writing  in  1875,  Bishop  Caldwell  remarks  t  that 
"  the  great  majority  of  the  Shanars  who  remain  heathen 
wear  their  hair  long  ;  and,  if  they  are  not  allowed  to 
enter  the  temples,  the  restriction  to  which  they  are 
subject  is  not  owing  to  their  long  hair,  but  to  their  caste, 
for  those  few  members  of  the  caste,  continuing  heathens, 
who  have  adopted  the  kudumi — generally  the  wealthiest 
of  the  caste — are  as  much  precluded  from  entering  the 
temples  as  those  who  retain  their  long  hairs.  A  large 
majority  of  the  Christian  Shanars  have  adopted  the 
kudumi  together  with  Christianity." 

By  Regulation  XI,  18 16,  it  was  enacted  that  heads 
of  villages  have,  in  cases  of  a  trivial  nature,  such  as 
abusive  language  and  inconsiderable  assaults  or  affrays, 
power  to  confine  the  offending  members  in  the  village 

•  Madras  Mail,  1901.  f  1"^.  Ant.,  IV,  1875. 

373  SHAnAN 

choultry  (lock-up)  for  a  time  not  exceeding  twelve 
hours  ;  or,  if  the  offending  parties  are  of  the  lower  castes 
of  the  people,  on  whom  it  may  not  be  improper  to  inflict 
so  degrading  a  punishment,  to  order  them  to  be  put 
in  the  stocks  for  a  time  not  exceeding  six  hours.  In  a 
case  which  came  before  the  High  Court  it  was  ruled 
that  by  "  lower  castes "  were  probably  intended  those 
castes  which,  prior  to  the  introduction  of  British  rule, 
were  regarded  as  servile.  In  a  case  which  came  up  on 
appeal  before  the  High  Court  in  1903,  it  was  ruled  that 
the  Shanars  belong  to  the  lower  classes,  who  may  be 
punished  by  confinement  in  the  stocks. 

With  the  physique  of  the  Shanans,  whom  I  examined 
at  Nazareth  and  Sawyerpuram  in  Tinnevelly,  and  their 
skill  in  physical  exercises  I  was  very  much  impressed. 
The  programme  of  sports,  which  were  organised  in  my 
honour,  included  the  following  events  : — 

Fencing  and  figure  exercises  with  long  sticks  of 
iron-wood  {Mesua  ferrea). 

Figure  exercises  with  sticks  bearing  flaming  rags 
at  each  end. 

Various  acrobatic  tricks. 

Feats    with    heavy    weights,    rice-pounders,    and 
pounding  stones. 

Long  jump. 

Breaking  cocoanuts  with  the  thrust  of  a  knife  or 
the  closed  fist. 

Crunching  whiskey-bottle  glass  with  the  teeth. 

Running  up,  and  butting  against  the  chest,  back, 
and  shoulders. 

Swallowing  a  long  silver  chain. 

Cutting  a  cucumber  balanced  on  a  man's  neck  in 
two  with  a  sword. 


SHANAN  374 

One  of  the  good  qualities  of  Sir  Thomas  Munro, 
formerly  Governor  of  Madras,  was  that,  like  Rama  and 
Rob  Roy,  his  arms  reached  to  his  knees,  or,  in  other 
words,  he  possessed  the  kingly  quality  of  an  Ajanubahu, 
which  is  the  heritage  of  kings,  or  those  who  have  blue 
blood  in  them.  This  particular  anatomical  character 
I  have  met  with  myself  only  once,  in  a  Shanan,  whose 
height  was  173  cm.  and  span  of  the  arms  194  cm. 
(-f-  21  cm.).  Rob  Roy,  it  will  be  remembered,  could, 
without  stooping,  tie  his  garters,  which  were  placed  two 
inches  below  the  knee. 

For  a  detailed  account  of  demonolatry  among  the 
Shanans,  I  would  refer  the  reader  to  the  Rev.  R. 
(afterwards  Bishop)  Caldwell's  now  scarce  '  Tinnevelly 
Shanans '  (1849),  written  when  he  was  a  young  and  impul- 
sive missionary,  and  the  publication  of  which  I  believe 
that  the  learned  and  kind-hearted  divine  lived  to  regret. 

Those  Shanans  who  are  engaged  in  the  palmyra 
{Borassus  flabellifer)  forests  in  extracting  the  juice 
of  the  palm-tree  climb  with  marvellous  activity  and 
dexterity.  There  is  a  proverb  that,  if  you  desire  to 
climb  trees,  you  must  be  born  a  Shanan.  A  palmyra 
climber  will,  it  has  been  calculated,  go  up  from  forty  to 
fifty  trees,  each  forty  to  fifty  feet  high,  three  times  a  day. 
The  story  is  told  by  Bishop  Caldwell  of  a  man  who  was 
sitting  upon  a  leaf-stalk  at  the  top  of  a  palmyra  palm  in  a 
high  wind,  when  the  stalk  gave  way,  and  he  came  down 
to  the  ground  safely  and  quietly,  sitting  on  the  leaf,  which 
served  the  purpose  of  a  natural  parachute.  Wood- 
peckers are  called  Shanara  kurivi  by  birdcatchers, 
because  they  climb  trees  like  Shanars.  "  The  Hindus," 
the  Rev.  (afterwards  Canon)  A.     Margoschis  writes,* 

*  Christianity  and  Caste,  1893. 

375  SHANAN 

"  observe  a  special  day  at  the  commencement  of  the  pal- 
myra season,  when  the  jaggery  season  begins.  Bishop 
Caldwell  adopted  the  custom,  and  a  solemn  service 
in  church  was  held,  when  one  set  of  all  the  imple- 
ments used  in  the  occupation  of  palmyra-climbing  was 
brought  to  the  church,  and  presented  at  the  altar. 
Only  the  day  was  changed  from  that  observed  by  the 
Hindus.  The  perils  of  the  palmyra-climber  are  great, 
and  there  are  many  fatal  accidents  by  falling  from  trees 
forty  to  sixty  feet  high,  so  that  a  religious  service  of 
the  kind  was  particularly  acceptable,  and  peculiarly 
appropriate  to  our  people."  The  conversion  of  a  Hindu 
into  a  Christian  ceremonial  rite,  in  connection  with 
the  dedication  of  ex  votos,  is  not  devoid  of  interest.  In 
a  note  *  on  the  Pariah  caste  in  Travancore,  the  Rev. 
S.  Mateer  narrates  a  legend  that  the  Shanans  are 
descended  from  Adi,  the  daughter  of  a  Pariah  woman  at 
Karuvur,  who  taught  them  to  climb  the  palm  tree,  and 
prepared  a  medicine  which  would  protect  them  from 
falling  from  the  high  trees.  The  squirrels  also  ate  some 
of  it,  and  enjoy  a  similar  immunity. 

It  is  recorded,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the  Madura 
district,  that  Shanan  toddy-drawers  "employ  Pallans, 
Paraiyans,  and  other  low  castes  to  help  them  transport 
the  liquor,  but  Musalmans  and  Brahmans  have,  in 
several  cases,  sufficiently  set  aside  the  scruples  enjoined 
by  their  respective  faiths  against  dealings  in  potent 
liquor  to  own  retail  shops,  and  (in  the  case  of  some 
Musalmans  at  least)  to  serve  their  customers  with  their 
own  hands."  In  a  recent  note,t  it  has  been  stated  that 
"  L.M.S.  Shanar  Christians  have,  in  many  cases,  given 
up  tapping  the  palmyra  palm  for  jaggery  and  toddy  as  a 

*  Journ.  Roy.  As.  Soc,  XVI.  t  Madras  Mail,  1907. 

SHANAN  3^6 

profession  beneath  them ;  and  their  example  is  spread- 
ing, so  that  a  real  economic  impasse  is  manifesting  itself. 
The  writer  knows  of  one  village  at  least,  which  had  to 
send  across  the  border  (of  Travancore)  into  Tinnevelly 
to  procure  professional  tree-tappers.  Consequent  on 
this  want  of  professional  men,  the  palm  trees  are  being 
cut  down,  and  this,  if  done  to  any  large  extent,  will 
impoverish  the  country." 

In  the  palmyra  forests  of  Attitondu,  in  Tinnevelly,  I 
came  across  a  troop  of  stalwart  Shanan  men  and  boys, 
marching  out  towards  sunset,  to  guard  the  ripening 
cholum  crop  through  the  night,  each  with  a  trained 
dog,  with  leash  made  of  fibre  passed  through  a  ring  on  the 
neck-collar.  The  leash  would  be  slipped  directly  the  dog 
scented  a  wild  pig,  or  other  nocturnal  marauder.  Several 
of  the  dogs  bore  the  marks  of  encounters  with  pigs.  One 
of  the  party  carried  a  musical  instrument  made  of  a 
'  bison '  horn  picked  up  in  the  neighbouring  jungle. 

The  Shanans  have  a  great  objection  to  being 
called  either  Shanan  or  Marameri  (tree-climber),  and 
much  prefer  Nadan.  By  the  Shanans  of  Tinnevelly, 
whom  I  visited,  the  following  five  sub-divisions  were 
returned : — 

1.  Karukku-pattayar  (those  of  the  sharp  sword), 
which  is  considered  to  be  superior  to  the  rest.  In  the 
Census  Report,  1891,  the  division  Karukku-mattai 
(petiole  of  the  palmyra  leaf  with  serrated  edges)  was 
returned.  Some  Shanans  are  said  to  have  assumed  the 
name  of  Karukku-mattai  Vellalas. 

2.  Kalla.  Said  to  be  the  original  servants  of  the 
Karukku-pattayar,  doing  menial  work  in  their  houses, 
and  serving  as  palanquin-bearers. 

3.  Nattati.  Settled  at  the  village  of  Nattati  near 

^11  SHANAN 

4.  Kodikkal.  Derived  from  kodi,  a  flag.  Stand- 
ard-bearers of  the  fighting  men.  According  to  another 
version,  the  word  means  a  betel  garden,  in  reference  to 
those  who  were  betel  cultivators. 

5.  Mel-natar  (mel,  west).  Those  who  live  in  the 
western  part  of  Tinnevelly  and  in  Travancore. 

At  the  census,  1891,  Konga  (territorial)  and 
Madurai  were  returned  as  sub-divisions.  The  latter 
apparently  receives  its  name,  not  from  the  town  of 
Madura,  but  from  a  word  meaning  sweet  juice.  At  the 
census,  1901,  Tollakkadan  (man  with  a  big  hole  in  his 
ears)  was  taken  as  being  a  sub-caste  of  Shanan,  as 
the  people  who  returned  it,  and  sell  husked  rice  in 
Madras,  used  the  title  Nadan.  Madura  and  Tinnevelly 
are  eminently  the  homes  of  dilated  ear-lobes.  Some 
Tamil  traders  in  these  two  districts,  who  returned 
themselves  as  Pandyan,  were  classified  as  Shanans,  as 
Nadan  was  entered  as  their  title.  In  Coimbatore,  some 
Shanans,  engaged  as  shop-keepers,  have  been  known 
to  adopt  the  name  of  Chetti.  In  Coimbatore,  too,  the 
title  Muppan  occurs.  This  title,  meaning  headman 
or  elder,  is  also  used  by  the  Ambalakaran,  Valayan, 
Sudarman,  Senaikkudaiyan,  and  other  castes.  In  the 
Tanjore  Manual,  the  Shanans  are  divided  into  Tennam, 
Panam,  and  Ichcham,  according  as  they  tap  the  cocoa- 
nut,  palmyra,  or  wild  date  {^Phoenix  sylvestris).  The 
name  Enadi  for  Shanans  is  derived  from  Enadi  Nayanar, 
a  Saivite  saint.     But  it  also  means  a  barber. 

The  community  has,  among  its  members,  land- 
owners, and  graduates  in  theology,  law,  medicine,  and 
the  arts.  Nine-tenths  of  the  Native  clergy  in  Tinne- 
velly are  said  to  be  converted  Shanans,  and  Tinnevelly 
claims  Native  missionaries  working  in  Madagascar, 
Natal,  Mauritius,    and    the   Straits.     The    occupations 

shAnbog  37^ 

of  those  whom  I  saw  at  Nazareth  were  merchant,  culti- 
vator, teacher,  village  munsif,  organist,  cart-driver,  and 

The  Shanans  have  established  a  school,  called  Kshat- 
riya  Vidyasala,  at  Virudupati  in  Tinnevelly.  This  is  a 
free  school,  for  attendance  at  which  no  fee  is  levied 
on  the  pupils,  for  the  benefit  of  the  Shanan  community, 
but  boys  of  other  castes  are  freely  admitted  to  it.  It  is 
maintained  by  Shanans  from  their  mahimai  fund,  and 
the  teachers  are  Brahmans,  Shanans,  etc.  The  word 
mahimai  means  greatness,  glory,  or  respectability. 

Shanbog.— The  Magane  Shanbog  takes  the  place, 
in  South  Canara,  of  the  village  Karnam  or  accountant. 
There  are  also  temple  Shanbogs,  who  are  employed 
at  the  more  important  temples.  When  social  disputes 
come  up  for  decision  at  caste  council  meetings,  the 
Shanbog  appointed  by  the  caste  records  the  evidence, 
and  the  Moktessor  or  Mukhtesar  (chief  man)  of  the 
caste  decides  upon  the  facts.  In  some  places  in  South 
Canara  Shanbog  is  used  as  a  synonym  for  Sarasvat 
Brahman.  In  Mysore,  the  Shanbog  is  said  *  to  be  "  the 
village  accountant,  with  hardly  an  exception  of  the 
Brahman  caste.  The  office  is  hereditary.  In  some 
places  they  hold  land  free  of  rent,  and  in  others  on  light 
assessment.  In  some  few  places  a  fixed  money  allow- 
ance is  given.  In  all  instances  there  are  certain  fixed 
fees  payable  to  them  in  money  or  kind  by  the  ryots." 

It  is  noted  by  Mr.  W.  Robinson,  in  a  report  on 
the  Laccadive  islands (1869),  that  "the  Monegarhas  the 
assistance  of  one  of  the  islanders  as  a  Karany,  to  take 
down  depositions,  and  to  read  them,  for  the  character 
used  is  the  Arabic.     In  addition  to  these  duties,  the 

*  L,  Rice,     Mysore  and  Coorg  Gazetteer, 


Karany  has  those  of  the  Shanbogue.  He  keeps  the 
accounts  of  the  trees,  and  the  coir  (cocoanut  fibre)  in  the 
islands,  and  makes  out  and  delivers  the  accounts  of  coir 
brought  to  the  coast." 

Shikari.— Shikari,  meaning  a  sportsman  or  hunter, 
occurs  as  a  synonym  of  Irula,  and  a  sub-division  of 
Korava.  The  name  shikari  is  also  applied  to  a  Native 
who  "  accompanies  European  sportsmen  as  a  guide  and 
aid,  and  to  the  European  sportsman  himself."  * 

Sholaga.— In  his  account  of  the  Sholagas  or  Solagas, 
early  in  the  last  century,  Buchanan t  writes  that  they 
"  speak  a  bad  or  old  dialect  of  the  Karnata  language,  have 
scarcely  any  clothing,  and  sleep  round  a  fire,  lying  on  a 
few  plantain  leaves,  and  covering  themselves  with  others. 
They  live  chiefly  on  the  summits  of  mountains,  where  the 
tigers  do  not  frequent,  but  where  their  naked  bodies  are 
exposed  to  a  disagreeable  cold.  Their  huts  are  most 
wretched,  and  consist  of  bamboos  with  both  ends  stuck 
into  the  ground,  so  as  to  form  an  arch,  which  is  covered 
with  plantain  leaves."  The  up-to-date  Sholaga,  who 
inhabits  the  jungles  of  Coimbatore  between  Dimbhum 
and  Kollegal  near  the  Mysore  frontier,  is  clad  in  a 
cotton  loin-cloth,  supplemented  by  a  coat  of  English 
pattern  with  regimental  buttons,  and  smears  himself 
freely  on  special  occasions,  such  as  a  visit  to  the  Gov- 
ernment anthropologist,  with  sacred  ashes  in  mimiciy  of 
the  Lingayats. 

I  gather  from  a  correspondent  that  the  following 
tradition  concerning  their  origin  is  current.  In  days  of 
yore  there  lived  two  brothers  in  the  Geddesala  hills,  by 
name  Karayan  and  Billaya  or  Madheswara.  The  Oralis 
and    Sholagas  are   descended    from    Karayan,    and   the 

*  Yule  and  Burnell.     Hobson-Jobson. 

t  Journey  through  Mysore,  Canara,  and  Malabar,  1807. 


Sivacharis  (LIngayats)  from  Madheswara.  The  two 
brothers  fell  into  the  hands  of  a  terrible  Rakshasha 
(demon),  by  name  Savanan,  who  made  Karayan  a  shep- 
herd, but  imprisoned  Madheswara  for  not  paying  him 
sufficient  respect,  and  extracted  all  kinds  of  menial  work 
from  him.  Last  of  all  he  ordered  him  to  make  a  pair  of 
shoes,  whereupon  Madheswara  asked  for  his  liberty  for 
a  few  days,  to  enable  him  to  have  the  shoes  well  made. 
His  request  being  granted,  Madheswara  betook  himself 
to  the  god  Krishnamurti,  and  asked  him  for  his  help 
in  his  troubles.  The  god  was  only  too  happy  to  assist, 
and  suggested  that  the  shoes  should  be  made  of  wax. 
Helped  by  Krishnamurti,  Madheswara  made  a  very 
beautiful-looking  pair  of  shoes.  Krishnamurti  then 
ordered  him  to  pile  up  and  light  a  huge  bonfire  on  a 
bare  rocky  hill  east  of  Geddesala,  so  as  to  make  it  nearly 
red-hot.  The  ashes  were  then  cleared  away,  so  as  to 
leave  no  trace  of  their  plot.  Madheswara  then  took  the 
shoes,  and  presented  them  to  Savanan,  who  was  much 
pleased  with  them,  and  willingly  acceded  to  Madhe- 
swara's  request  that  he  would  put  them  on,  and  walk 
along  the  rock.  But,  as  soon  as  he  stepped  upon  it,  the 
shoes  melted,  and  Savanan  fell  heavily  on  the  rock, 
clutching  hold  of  Madheswara  as  he  fell,  and  trying  to 
strangle  him.  Krishnamurti  had  assembled  all  the  gods 
to  witness  the  carrying  out  of  the  plot,  and,  telling  each 
of  them  to  pile  a  stone  on  Savana's  head,  himself  rescued 
Madheswara  from  his  clutches,  and  all  jumped  upon  the 
Rakshasha  till  no  trace  of  him  was  left.  While  this  was 
going  on,  Karayan  was  tending  Savanan's  herds  in  the 
forest,  and,  when  he  came  to  hear  about  it,  was  angry 
with  his  brother  for  not  consulting  him  before  destroy- 
ing Savanan.  Flying  from  Karayan,  who  was  armed 
with    a   knife,    Madheswara    implored     Krishnamurti's 

38 1  SHOLAGA 

help,  by  which  he  was  able  to  leap  from  Kotriboli  to 
the  hill  called  Urugamalai,  a  distance  of  some  ten  miles. 
The  force  of  the  leap  caused  the  hill  to  bend — hence 
its  name  meaning  the  bending  hill.  Finding  that 
the  hill  was  bending,  and  being  still  hotly  pursued  by 
his  brother,  knife  in  hand,  Madheswara  again  appealed 
to  Krishnamurti,  and  was  enabled  to  make  another 
leap  of  about  five  miles  to  a  hill  called  Eggaraimalai, 
which  immediately  began  to  subside.  Hence  its 
name,  meaning  the  subsiding  hill.  Thence  he  fled  to 
Munikanal,  and  concealed  himself  under  a  rock,  closely 
followed  by  Karayan,  who  slashed  the  rock  with  his 
knife,  and  left  marks  which  are  visible  to  this  day. 
From  Munikanal  he  fled  to  the  hill  now  known  as 
Madheswaranamalai,  and  hid  in  a  rat  hole.  Karayan, 
not  being  able  to  unearth  him,  sent  for  a  lot  of  shep- 
herds, and  made  them  pen  their  sheep  and  cattle  over 
the  hole.  The  effluvium  became  too  strong  for  the 
fugitive,  so  he  surrendered  himself  to  his  brother,  who 
pardoned  him  on  the  understanding  that,  on  deifi- 
cation, Karayan  should  have  prior  claim  to  all  votive 
offerings.  To  this  Madheswara  agreed,  and  to  this  day 
Sivacharis,  when  doing  puja,  first  make  their  offerings  to 
Karayan  and  afterwards  to  Madheswara.  In  connection 
with  this  legend,  any  one  proceeding  to  the  top  of  Kotri- 
boli hill  at  the  present  day  is  expected  to  place  a  stone 
upon  the  rock,  with  the  result  that  there  are  many  piles 
of  stones  there.  Even  Europeans  are  asked  to  do  this. 
The  Sholagas  are  said  to  call  themselves  men  of  five 
kulams,  or  exogamous  septs,  among  which  are  Chalikiri, 
Teneru,  Belleri,  Surya  (the  sun),  and  Aleru.  By  mem- 
bers of  the  twelve  kulam  class,  everything  is  done  by 
twelves.  For  example,  on  the  twelfth  day  after  a  birth, 
twelve  elders  are  invited  to  the  house  to  bless  the  child. 


At  a  marriage,  twelve  of  the  bridegroom's  relations  go 
and  fetch  the  bride,  and  the  wedding  pandal  (booth) 
has  twelve  posts.  The  parents  of  the  bridegroom  pay 
twelve  rupees  to  the  bride's  father,  and  a  tali  Cmarriao-e 
badge)  worth  twelve  annas  is  tied  round  the  bride's  neck. 
In  case  of  death,  the  body  is  borne  on  a  stretcher  made 
of  twelve  bamboos,  and  mourning  lasts  for  twelve  days. 
Tribal  disputes,  e.g.,  quarrelling  and  adultery,  are 
decided  by  the  Yejamana,  assisted  by  a  Pattagara  and  a 
few  leading  men  of  the  community.  Under  the  orders 
of  the  two  former  is  the  Chalavathi  or  village  servant. 
The  Yejamana,  Pattagara,  and  Chalavathi  must  belong 
respectively  to  the  Chalikiri,  Teneri,  and  Surya  septs. 

When  a  girl  reaches  puberty,  she  occupies  a  separate 
hut  for  five  days,  and  then  returns  home  after  a  bath. 
The  maternal  uncle  should  present  her  with  a  new  cloth, 
betel  leaves  and  areca  nuts,  and  plantain  fruits.  In  the 
formal  marriage  ceremony,  the  tali  is  tied  by  the  bride- 
groom inside  a  booth  ;  the  maternal  uncle,  if  he  can  afford 
it,  presents  a  new  cloth  to  the  bride,  and  a  feast  is  held. 
Sometimes  even  this  simple  rite  is  dispensed  with,  and 
the  couple,  without  any  formality,  live  together  as  man 
and  wife,  on  the  understanding  that,  at  some  time,  a  feast 
must  be  given  to  a  few  of  the  community.  I  am  told 
that  the  Sholagas  of  the  Burghur  hills  have  a  very  extra- 
ordinary way  of  treating  expectant  mothers.  A  few  days 
before  the  event  is  expected  to  take  place,  the  husband 
takes  his  wife  right  away  into  the  jungle,  and  leaves 
her  there  alone  with  three  days'  supply  of  food.  There 
she  has  to  stay,  and  do  the  best  she  can  for  herself.  If 
she  does  not  come  back  at  the  end  of  the  three  days,  the 
husband  goes  out  and  takes  her  more  food.  But  she 
may  not  return  to  her  village  till  the  baby  is  born. 
When  one  of  these  unfortunate  creatures  comes  back 


safely,  there  is  a  great  celebration  in  her  honour,  with 
beating  of  tom-tom,  etc. 

The  dead  are  buried  with  the  body  lying  on  its  left 
side,  and  the  head  to  the  south.  On  their  return  home 
from  a  funeral,  those  who  have  been  present  thereat 
salute  a  lighted  lamp.  On  the  spot  where  the  dead 
person  breathed  his  last,  a  little  ragi  [Eleusine  Coracana) 
paste  and  water  are  placed,  and  here,  on  the  fourth  day, 
a  goat  is  sacrificed,  and  offered  up  to  the  soul  of  the 
departed.  After  this  the  son  proceeds  to  the  burial 
ground,  carrying  a  stone,  and  followed  by  men  selected 
from  each  of  the  exogamous  septs.  Arrived  near  the 
grave,  they  sit  down,  while  the  son  places  the  stone  on 
the  ground,  and  they  then  lift  it  in  succession.  The  last 
man  to  do  so  is  said  to  fall  into  a  trance.  On  his 
recovery,  leaves  (plantain,  teak,  etc.)  corresponding  in 
number  to  the  exogamous  septs,  are  arranged  round  the 
stone,  and,  on  each  leaf,  different  kinds  of  food  are  placed. 
The  men  partake  of  the  food,  each  from  the  leaf  allotted 
to  his  sept.  The  meal  concluded,  the  son  holds  the 
stone  in  his  hands,  while  his  companions  pour  ragi  and 
water  over  it,  and  then  carries  it  away  to  the  gopamane 
(burial-ground)  of  his  sept,  and  sets  it  up  there. 

On  the  occasion  of  a  death  in  a  Mala  Vellala  village, 
the  Sholagas  come  in  crowds,  with  clarionets  and  drums, 
and  bells  on  their  legs,  and  dance  in  front  of  the  house. 
And  the  corpse  is  borne,  in  musical  procession,  to  the 

The  staple  food  of  the  Sholagas  is  ragi  paste  and 
yams  {Dioscorea),  which,  like  the  Uralis,  they  supplement 
by  sundry  jungle  animals  and  birds.  Paroquets  they 
will  not  eat,  as  they  regard  them  as  their  children. 

Their  main  occupation  is  to  collect  minor  forest 
produce,      myrabolams,      vembadam      bark    [Ventilago 


madraspatana),  avaram  bark  (Cassia  auriculata),  deers' 
horns,  tamarinds,  gum,  honey,  soap-nuts,  sheekoy  {Acacia 
Concinna),  etc.  The  forests  have  been  divided  into 
blocks,  and  a  certain  place  within  each  block  has  been 
selected  for  the  forest  depot.  To  this  place  the  collecting 
agents,  mostly  Sholagas  and  Uralis,  bring  the  produce, 
and  there  it  is  sorted  and  paid  for  by  special  supervisors 
appointed  for  the  work. 

In  the  Coimbatore  district  the  Sholagas  are  said 
to  collect  honey  from  rocky  crevices.  The  combs  are 
much  larger  than  those  found  on  trees,  and  are  supposed 
to  contain  twice  as  much  wax  in  proportion  to  the  honey. 
On  the  Nilgiri  hills  honey-combs  are  collected  by  Jen 
Kurumbas  and  Sholagas.  The  supply  of  honey  varies 
according  to  the  nature  of  the  season,  and  is  espe- 
cially plentiful  and  of  good  quality  when  Strobilanthes 
Wigktianus,  S.  Kuntkiana,  and  other  species  are  in 

It  has  been  said  that  even  wild  beasts  will  scent  a 
Sholaga,  and  flee  before  the  aroma. 

The  Sholagas,  who  were  examined  by  Dr.  Rivers 
and  myself,  came  to  the  conclusion  that  the  object  of  our 
enquiry  was  to  settle  them  in  a  certain  place  near 
London,  and  that  the  wools  of  different  colours  (used  for 
testing  colour  vision)  given  to  them  for  selection, 
were  for  tying  them  captive  with.  Others  said  that  they 
could  not  understand  why  the  different  organs  of  their 
bodies  were  measured  ;  perhaps  to  reduce  or  increase  the 
size  of  their  body  to  suit  the  different  works,  which  they 
were  expected  to  do  near  London.  It  has  been  pointed 
out  to  me,  as  an  interesting  fact,  that  a  similarity  of 
idea  concerning  the  modification  of  different  organs  to 
suit  men  for  the  doing  of  special  work  has  been  arrived 
at  by  the  jungle  folk,  and  by  Mr.  Wells  in  his  book. 



*  The  first  men  in  the  moon,'  where  the  lunar  inhabitants 
are  described  as  carrying  on  the  practice. 

Of  the  experiences  of  a  Sholaga  when  out  with  a 
European  on  a  shooting  expedition,  the  following  account 
has  recently  been  given.*  "  My  husband  was  after  a 
bear,  and  tracked  Bruin  to  his  cave.  He  had  torches 
made,  and  these  he  ordered  to  be  thrust  into  the  cave 
in  the  hope  of  smoking  the  bear  out,  but,  as  nothing 
happened,  he  went  into  the  cave,  accompanied  by  a 
Sholigar  carrying  a  torch.  As  soon  as  they  got  used  to 
the  light,  they  saw  a  small  aperture  leading  into  an  inner 
cave,  and  the  Sholigar  was  told  to  put  the  torch  in 
there.  Hardly  was  this  done,  when  out  rushed  a  large 
bear,  knocking  over  the  Sholigar,  and  extinguishing  the 
torch.  My  husband  could  not  get  his  gun  up  in  time  to 
fire,  as  the  bear  rushed  through  the  cave  into  the  jungle. 
Just  as  the  Sholigar  was  picking  himself  up,  out  rushed 
'another  bear.  This  time  my  husband  was  ready,  and 
fired.  To  the  Sholigar's  horror.  Bruin  sank  down 
wounded  at  the  entrance  to  the  outer  cave,  thus  blocking 
the  exit,  and  keeping  both  tracker  and  my  husband 
prisoners.  The  Sholigar  began  whimpering,  saying  he 
was  the  father  of  a  large  family,  and  did  not  wish  to 
leave  the  children  fatherless.  Soon  the  bear,  though 
very  badly  wounded,  managed  to  get  to  its  feet,  and 
crawl  away  into  the  jungle,  so  liberating  the  prisoners." 

Concerning  the  Sholagas  of  the  Mysore  Province,!  I 
gather  that  they  "  inhabit  the  depths  of  the  forests  cloth- 
ing the  foot  and  slopes  of  the  Biligirirangam  hills.  They 
cultivate  with  the  hoe  small  patches  of  jungle  clearings. 
Their  chief  god  is  Biligiri  Rangasvami,  but  they  also 
worship    Karaiyya,    their   tribal   tutelary   deity.      Their 

*  Madras  Mail,  1907.  f  Mysore  Census  Report,  1891. 



principal  food  is  the  ragi,  which  they  grow,  supplemented 
by  wild  forest  produce.  They  are  partial  to  the  flesh  of 
deer,  antelope,  pigs,  sheep  and  goats.  A  few  of  them 
have,  in  recent  years,  come  to  own  lands.  Like  the 
Jenu  Kurumbas,  they  are  perfect  trackers  of  wild  animals. 
Three  kinds  of  marriage  prevail  among  them.  The  first 
is  affected  by  the  more  well-to-do,  who  perform  the 
ceremony  with  much  eclat  under  a  shed  with  twelve 
pillars  (bamboo  posts),  accompanied  by  music  and  festi- 
vities, which  continue  for  three  days.  The  second  is 
more  common,  and  seems  to  be  a  modified  form  of 
concubinage.  The  poorer  members  resort  to  the  third 
kind,  which  consists  in  the  couple  eloping  to  a  distant 
jungle,  and  returning  home  only  after  the  bride  has 
become  a  mother.  They  speak  a  patois,  allied  to  old 
Canarese  or  Hale  Kannada."* 

Shola  Naiker.— A  synonym  of  Jen  Kurumbas  in 
the  Wynad. 

Sibbi  Dhompti  (brass  vessel  offering). — A  sub- 
division of  Madigas,  who,  at  marriages,  offer  food  to  the 
afod  in  brass  vessels. 

Siddaru.— A  synonym  of  Jogi  mendicants. 
Sika  (kudumi  or  hair-knot). — An  exogamous  sept  of 

Sikili  (broom). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Madiga. 
Sikligar.-^In   the    Madras    Census    Report,    1901, 
eleven  individuals  are  returned  as  belonging  to  an  Upper 
India  caste  of  knife-grinders  (Sikligar).     In  the  Madura 
Manual,  Sikilkarars  are  described  as  knife-grinders,  who 
wander  about  in  quest  of  work  from  village  to  village. 
Sila  (stone). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Omanaito. 
Silam  (good  conduct). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Mala. 

Mysore  Census  Report,  1891, 


Silavant. — In  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901, 
Silavant  is  recorded  as  meaning  the  virtuous,  and  as 
being  a  sub-sect  of  Lingayats.  In  the  Mysore  Census 
Report,  Silavanta  is  given  as  a  name  for  Lingayat 
Nayindas.  For  the  following  note  on  the  Silavantalu  or 
Silevantalu  of  Vizagapatam,  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  C. 
Hayavadana  Rao. 

They  are  a  sect  of  Lingayats,  who,  though  they  do 
not  admit  it,  appear  to  be  an  offshoot  of  Pattu  Sales,  who 
became  converts  to  the  Lingayat  religion.  They  are 
engaged  in  the  manufacture  of  fine  cloths  for  males  and 
females.  The  religious  observances  which  secured  them 
their  name,  meaning  those  who  practice  or  possess 
particular  religious  customs,  have  been  thus  described. 
In  the  seventh  month  of  pregnancy,  at  the  time  of  quick- 
ening, a  small  stone  linga  is  enclosed  in  black  lac, 
wrapped  in  a  piece  of  silk  cloth,  and  tied  to  the  thread 
of  the  linga  which  is  on  the  woman's  neck.  The  child 
is  thus  invested  with  the  linga  while  still  in  utero. 
When  it  is  about  a  year  old,  and  weaned,  the  linga  is 
taken  off  the  mother's  neck,  and  replaced  by  a  silver 
locket.  The  linga  is  tied  on  the  neck  of  the  child.  At 
the  beginning  of  the  twelfth  year  in  the  case  of  boys, 
and  just  before  the  marriage  of  girls,  this  linga  is  taken 
off,  and  a  fresh  one  suspended  round  the  neck  by  a  guru. 

The  Silavantalu  are  divided  into  exogamous  septs,  or 
intiperulu.  The  custom  of  menarikam,  whereby  a  man 
marries  his  maternal  uncle's  daughter,  is  the  rule.  But, 
if  the  maternal  uncle  has  no  daughter,  he  must  find  a 
suitable  bride  for  his  nephew.  Girls  are  married  before 
puberty,  and  a  Jangam,  known  as  Mahesvara,  officiates 
at  weddings. 

The  dead  are  buried  in  a  sitting  posture,  facing 
north.  The  linga  is  suspended  round  the  neck  of  the 
vi-25  B 

SILPA  388 

corpse,  and  buried  with  it.  Six  small  copper  plates  are 
made,  each  containing  a  syllable  of  the  invocation  Om 
na  ma  Si  va  ya.  Two  of  these  are  placed  on  the  thighs 
of  the  corpse,  one  on  the  head,  one  on  the  navel,  and 
two  on  the  shoulders,  and  stuck  on  with  guggilam  paste. 
The  corpse  is  then  tied  up  in  a  sack.  The  relatives 
offer  flowers  to  it,  and  burn  camphor  before  it.  The 
grave  is  dug  several  feet  deep,  and  a  cavity  or  cell  is 
made  on  the  southern  side  of  it,  and  lined  with  bamboo 
matting.  The  corpse  is  placed  within  the  cell,  and  salt 
thrown  into  the  grave  before  it  is  filled  in.  A  Jangam 
officiates  at  the  funeral.  Monthly  and  annual  death 
ceremonies  are  performed.  A  samathi  or  monument  is 
erected  over  the  grave.  Such  a  monument  may  be  either 
in  the  form  of  a  square  mound  (brindavan)  with  niches 
for  lights  and  a  hole  in  the  top,  in  which  a  tulsi  {Ocimum 
sanctum)  is  planted,  or  in  the  form  of  a  small  chamber. 
Relations  go  occasionally  to  the  grave,  whereon  they 
deposit  flowers,  and  place  lights  in  the  niches  or  chamber. 

The  Silavantalu  are  strict  vegetarians  and  total 
abstainers.     Their  titles  are  Ayya  and  Lingam. 

Silpa  (artisan). — A  sub-division  of  the  Kammalans, 
Panchalas  or  Kamsalas,  whose  hereditary  occupation  is 
that  of  stone-masons.  In  the  Silpa  Sastra,  the  measure- 
ments necessary  in  sculpture,  the  duties  of  a  Silpi,  etc., 
are  laid  down.  I  am  informed  that  the  carver  of  a  stone 
idol  has  to  select  a  male  or  female  stone,  according  as 
the  idol  is  to  be  a  god  or  goddess,  and  that  the  sex  of 
a  stone  can  be  determined   by  its  ring  when  struck. 

Sindhu. — The  Sindhuvallu  (drummers)  are  Madigas, 
who  go  about  acting  scenes  from  the  Ramayana  or 
Mahabharatha,  and  the  story  of  Ankamma.  Sindhu  also 
occurs  as  a  gotra  of  Kurni.  The  beating  of  the  drum 
called  sindhu  is,  I  gather,  sometimes  a  nuisance,  for  a 

389  sirpAdam 

missionary  writes  to  the  paper  enquiring  whether  there 
is  any  order  of  Government  against  it,  as  the  practice 
"causes  much  crime,  and  creates  extra  work  for  police 
and  magistrates.  Village  officials  believe  they  have  no 
authority  to  suppress  it,  but  there  are  some  who  assert 
that  it  is  nominally  forbidden." 

Singamu-vai'U.^Singam  is  described,  in  the  Madras 
Census  Report,  1901,  as  a  class  of  beggars,  who  beg 
only  from  Sales.  They  are,  however,  described  by  Mr. 
C.  Hayavadana  Rao  as  a  class  of  itinerant  mendicants 
attached  to  the  Devangas.  "  The  name,"  he  writes,  "  is  a 
variant  of  Simhamu-varu,  or  lion-men,  i.e.^  as  valourous 
as  a  lion.  They  are  paid  a  small  sum  annually  by  each 
Devanga  village  for  various  services  which  they  render, 
such  as  carrying  fire  before  a  Devanga  corpse  to  the 
burial-ground,  acting  as  caste  messengers,  and  cleaning 
the  weaving  instruments." 

Sinnata  (gold). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Kuruba. 
Siolo. — A  small  class  of  Oriya  toddy-drawers,  whose 
touch  conveys  pollution.     The  Sondis,  who  are  an  Oriya 
caste  of  toddy-sellers,   purchase  their  liquor  from  the 

Sipiti.—- The  Sipitis  are  described,  in  the  Madras 
Census  Report,  1901,  as  "  Oriya  temple  priests  and 
drummers  ;  a  sub-caste  of  Ravulo."  In  an  account  of 
them  as  given  to  me,  they  are  stated  to  be  Smartas,  and 
temple  priests  of  village  deities,  who  wear  the  sacred 
thread,  but  do  not  employ  Brahmans  as  purohits,  and  are 
regarded  as  somewhat  lower  in  the  social  scale  than  the 
Ravulos.  Some  of  their  females  are  said  to  have  been 
unrecognised  prostitutes,  but  the  custom  is  dying  out. 
The  caste  title  is  Muni.  i^See  Ravulo.) 
Sir.— A  sub-division  of  Kanakkan. 
Sirpadam.— A  sub-division  of  Kaikolan. 


Sirukudi.— "A  nadu  or  territorial  division  of  Kalian. 

Siru  Tali.— The  name,  indicating  those  who  wear  a 
small  tali  (marriage  badge),  of  a  sub-division  of  Kaikolan 
and  Maravan. 

Sitikan.— Recorded,  in  the  Travancore  Census 
Report,  1 90 1,  as  an  occupational  sub-division  of  Maran. 

Sitra.— 5*^^  Pano. 

Siva  Brahmana.— Recorded  as  a  synonym  of 

Sivachara.—- It  is  noted,  in  the  Mysore  Census 
Report,  1901,  that  the  Lingayats  call  themselves  "Vira 
Saivas,  Sivabhaktas,  or  Sivachars.  The  Virasaiva  reli- 
gion consists  of  numerous  castes.  It  is  a  religion 
consisting  of  representatives  from  almost  every  caste 
in  Hindu  society.  People  of  all  castes,  from  the  high- 
est to  the  lowest,  have  embraced  the  religion.  There 
are  Sivachar  Brahmins,  Sivachar  Kshatriyas,  Sivachar 
Vaisyas,  Sivachar  carpenters,  Sivachar  weavers,  Sivachar 
goldsmiths,  Sivachar  potters,  Sivachar  washermen,  and 
Sivachar  barbers,  and  other  low  castes  who  have  all 
folio w^ed  the  popular  religion  in  large  numbers." 

Sivadvija.— The  name,  denoting  Saivite  Brahman, 
by  which  Mussads  like  to  be  called.  Also  recorded  as 
a  synonym  of  Stanika. 

Sivaratri.— An  exogamous  sept  of  Odde,  named 
after  the  annual  Mahasivaratri  festival  in  honour  of  Siva. 
Holy  ashes,  sacred  to  Siva,  prepared  by  Smartas  on  this 
day,  are  considered  to  be  very  pure. 

Sivarchaka.— The  word  means  those  who  do  puja 
(worship)  to  Siva.  Priests  at  the  temple  of  village 
deities  are  ordinarily  known  as  Pujari,  Pusali,  Occhan, 
etc.,  but  nowadays  prefer  the  title  of  Umarchaka  or 
Sivarchaka.  The  name  Sivala  occurs  in  the  Madras 
Census  Report,  1901. 


Siviyar.— Siviyar  means  literally  a  palanquin-bearer, 
and  is  an  occupational  name  applied  to  those  employed 
in  that  capacity.     For  this  reason  a  sub-division  of  the 
Idaiyans  is  called  Siviyar.     The  Siviyars  of  Coimbatore 
say  that  they  have  no  connection  with  either  Idaiyans  or 
Toreyas,  but  are   Besthas  who  emigrated  from  Mysore 
during  the  troublous  times  of  the  Muhammadan  usurpa- 
tion.    The  name  Siviyar  is  stated  to  have  been  given  to 
them  by  the  Tamils,  as  they  were  palanquin-bearers  to 
officers  on  circuit  and  others  in  the  pre-railway  days. 
They  claim  origin,  on  the  authority  of  a  book  called 
Parvatharaja  Charithum,  from  Parvatharaja.     Their  main 
occupations  at  the  present  day  are  tank  and  river  fish- 
ing, but  some  are  petty  traders,  physicians,  peons,  etc. 
Their  language   is   Canarese,   and  their  title   Naickan. 
They  have  eighteen  marriage  divisions  or  gotras,  named 
after  persons  from  whom  the  various  gotras  are  said  to 
have  been  descended.     On  occasions  of  marriage,  when 
betel  leaf  is  distributed,  it  must  be  given  to  members  of 
the  different  gotras  in  their  order  of  precedence.     In 
cases  of  adultery,  the  guilty  parties  are  tied  to  a  post, 
and  beaten  with  tamarind  switches.     When  a  grown-up 
but  unmarried  person  dies,  the  corpse  is  made  to  go 
through  a  mock  marriage  with  a  human  figure  cut  out 
of  a  palm  leaf. 

Sodabisiya.— A  sub-division  of  Domb. 
Soi.— A  title  of  Doluva.     It   is  a  form  of  Sui  or 

Solaga.— 5^^  Sholaga. 

Soliyan.-— Soliyan  or  Soliya  is  a  territorial  name, 
meaning  an  inhabitant  of  the  Chola  country,  recorded  as 
a  sub-division  of  Karnam,  Idaiyan,  Pallan,  and  Vellala. 
The  equivalent  Solangal  occurs  as  an  exogamous  sept 
of  Vallamban,  and  Soliya  illam  (Malayalam,  house)  as 


an  exogamous  sept  of  Panikkans  In  the  Tamil  country. 
Some  Pallis  style  themselves  Solakanar  (descendants  of 
Chola  kings),  or  Solakula  Kshatriya.     {See  Sozhia.) 

Somakshatri.-— A  name  sometimes  adopted  by 
Canarese  Ganigas  in  South  Canara. 

Somara. — Recorded,  in  the  Madras  Census  Report, 
1 90 1,  as  a  small  class  of  potters  in  the  Vizagapatam 

S6mari  (idler). — A  division  of  Yanadis,  who  do 
scavenging  work,  and  eat  the  refuse  food  thrown  away 
by  people  from  the  leaf  plate  after  a  meal. 

Soma  Varada  (Sunday). — The  name  of  Kurubas 
who  worship  their  god  on  Sundays. 

Sonagan.— 5^^  Jonagan. 

Sonar.— The  Sonars  or  Sonagaras  of  South  Canara 
are  described  by  Mr.  H.  A.  Stuart  *  as  a  goldsmith  caste, 
who  "  speak  Konkani,  which  is  a  dialect  of  Marathi,  and 
are  believed  to  have  come  from  Goa.  The  community 
at  each  station  has  one  or  two  Mukhtesars  or  headmen, 
who  enquire  into,  and  settle  the  caste  affairs.  Serious 
offences  are  reported  to  the  swamy  of  Sode,  who  has 
authority  to  excommunicate,  or  to  inflict  heavy  fines. 
They  wear  the  sacred  thread.  Marriages  within  the 
same  gotra  are  strictly  prohibited.  Most  of  them  are 
Vaishnavites,  but  a  few  follow  Siva.  The  dead  are 
burned,  and  the  ashes  are  thrown  into  a  river.  They  eat 
fish,  but  not  flesh.  Their  title  is  Setti."  They  consider 
it  derogatory  to  work  in  metals  other  than  gold  and 

In  the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  the  Sunnari  (or 
Sonnari)  are  described  as  Oriya  goldsmiths  {see  Risley, 
Tribes  and  Castes  of  Bengal,  Sonar).     These  goldsmiths, 

*  Manual  of  the  South  Canara  district. 

393  SONAR 

in  the  Orlya  portion  of  the  Madras  Presidency,  are,  I  am 
informed,  Kamsalas  from  the  Telugu  country.  Unlike 
the  Oriyas,  and  like  other  Telugu  classes,  they  invariably 
have  a  house-name,  and  their  mother  tongue  is  Telugu, 
They  are  Saivites,  bury  their  dead,  claim  to  be 
descendants  of  Viswakarma,  and  call  themselves  Viswa 
Brahmans.  They  do  not  eat  meals  prepared  by  Brah- 
mans,  or  drink  water  at  the  hands  of  Brahmans. 

In  former  times,  goldsmiths  held  the  post  of 
Nottakaran  (tester)  or  village  shroff  (money-changer). 
His  function  was  to  test  the  rupees  tendered  when  the 
land  revenue  was  being  gathered  in,  and  see  that  they 
were  not  counterfeit.  There  is  a  proverb,  uncompli- 
mentary to  the  goldsmiths,  to  the  effect  that  a  goldsmith 
cannot  make  an  ornament  even  for  his  wife,  without 
first  secreting  some  of  the  gold  or  silver  given  him  for 
working  upon. 

It  has  been  noted  *  that  "  in  Madras,  an  exceedingly 
poor  country,  there  is  one  male  goldsmith  to  every  408 
of  the  total  population  ;  in  England,  a  very  rich  country, 
there  is  only  one  goldsmith  to  every  1,200  inhabitants. 
In  Europe,  jewellery  is  primarily  for  ornament,  and  is 
a  luxury.  In  India  it  is  primarily  an  investment,  its 
ornamental  purpose  being  an  incident." 

The  South  Indian  goldsmith  at  work  has  been  well 
described  as  follows. t  "A  hollow,  scooped  out  in  the 
middle  of  the  mud  floor  (of  a  room  or  verandah),  does 
duty  for  the  fireplace,  while,  close  by,  there  is  raised  a 
miniature  embankment,  semi-circular  in  shape,  with  a 
hole  in  the  middle  of  the  base  for  the  insertion  of  the 
bellows.  Crucibles  of  clay  or  cow-dung,  baked  hard  in 
the  sun,  tongs  and  hammers,  potsherds  of  charcoal,  dirty 

•  Madras  Census  Report,  i88l, 

t  A  Native.     Pen-and-ink  Sketches  of  Native  Life  in  Southern  India,  1880. 

SONDI  394 

tins  of  water,  and  little  packets  of  sal-ammoniac,  resin, 
or  other  similar  substances,  all  lie  scattered  about  the 
floor  in  picturesque  confusion.  Sitting,  or  rather  crouch- 
ing on  their  haunches,  are  a  couple  of  the  Panchala 
workmen.  One  of  them  is  blowing  a  pan  of  charcoal 
into  flame  through  an  iron  tube  some  eighteen  inches 
long  by  one  in  diameter,  and  stirring  up  the  loose  char- 
coal. Another  is  hammering  at  a  piece  of  silver  wire  on 
a  little  anvil  before  him.  With  his  miserable  tools  the 
Hindu  goldsmith  turns  out  work  that  well  might,  and 
often  deservedly  does,  rank  with  the  greatest  triumphs  of 
the  jeweller's  art." 

Sondi.— The  Sondis  or  Sundis  are  summed  up  in 
the  Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  as  '' Oriya  toddy- 
selling  caste.  They  do  not  draw  toddy  themselves,  but 
buy  it  from  Siolos,  and  sell  it.  They  also  distill  arrack." 
The  word  arrack  or  arak,  it  may  be  noted  en  passant^ 
means  properly  "  perspiration,  and  then,  first  the  exuda- 
tion of  sap  drawn  from  the  date-palm  ;  secondly,  any 
strong  drink,  distilled  spirit,  etc."  *  A  corruption  of  the 
word  is  rack,  which  occurs,  e.g.,  in  rack  punch. 

According  to  a  Sanskrit  work,  entitled  Parasara- 
paddati,  Soundikas  (toddy-drawers  and  distillers  of 
arrack)  are  the  offspring  of  a  Kaivarata  male  and  a 
Gaudike  female.  Both  these  castes  are  pratiloma  (mixed) 
castes.  In  the  Matsya  Purana,  the  Soundikas  are  said 
to  have  been  born  to  Siva  of  seven  Apsara  women  on 
the  bank  of  the  river  Son.  Manu  refers  to  the  Soundikas, 
and  says  that  a  Snataka  f  may  not  accept  food  from 
trainers  of  hunting  dogs,  Soundikas,  a  washerman,  a 
dyer,  pitiless  man,  and  a  man  in  whose  house  lives  a 
paramour  of  his  wife. 

*  Yule  and  Burnell,     Hobson-Jobson. 

t  A  Snataka  is  a  Brahman,  who  has  just  finished  his  student's  career. 

395  SONDI 

In  a  note  on  the  allied  Sunris  or  Sundis  of  Bengal, 
Mr.  Risley  writes*  that  "according  to  Hindu  ideas, 
distillers  and  sellers  of  strong  drink  rank  among  the 
most  degraded  castes,  and  a  curious  story  in  the  Vaivarta 
Purana  keeps  alive  the  memory  of  their  degradation.  It 
is  said  that  when  Sani,  the  Hindu  Saturn,  failed  to  adapt 
an  elephant's  head  to  the  mutilated  trunk  of  Ganesa, 
who  had  been  accidently  beheaded  by  Siva,  Viswa- 
karma,  the  celestial  artificer,  was  sent  for,  and  by  careful 
dissection  and  manipulation  he  fitted  the  incongruous 
parts  together,  and  made  a  man  called  Kedara  Sena 
from  the  slices  cut  off  in  fashioning  his  work.  This 
Kedara  Sena  was  ordered  to  fetch  a  drink  of  water  for 
Bhagavati,  .weary  and  athirst.  Finding  on  the  river's 
bank  a  shell  full  of  water,  he  presented  it  to  her,  without 
noticing  that  a  few  grains  of  rice  left  in  it  by  a  parrot 
had  fermented  and  formed  an  intoxicating  liquid. 
Bhagavati,  as  soon  as  she  had  drunk,  became  aware  of 
the  fact,  and  in  her  anger  condemned  the  offender  to 
the  vile  and  servile  occupation  of  making  spirituous 
liquor  for  mankind.  Another  story  traces  their  origin  to 
a  certain  Bhaskar  or  Bhaskar  Muni,  who  was  created  by 
Krishna's  brother,  Balaram,  to  minister  to  his  desire  for 
strong  drink.  A  different  version  of  the  same  legend 
gives  them  for  ancestor  Niranjan,  a  boy  found  by  Bhaskar 
floating  down  a  river  in  a  pot  full  of  country  liquor,  and 
brought  up  by  him  as  a  distiller." 

For  the  following  note  on  the  Sondis  of  Vizagapatam, 
I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  C.  Hayavadana  Rao.  According 
to  a  current  tradition,  there  was,  in  days  of  old,  a 
Brahman,  who  was  celebrated  for  his  magical  powers. 
The  king,  his  patron,  asked  him  if  he  could  make  the 

•  Tribes  and  Castes  of  Bengal. 

SONDI  396 

water  in  a  tank  (pond)  burn,  and  he  replied  In  the 
affirmative.  He  was,  however,  in  reality  disconsolate, 
because  he  did  not  know  how  to  do  it.  By  chance  he 
met  a  distiller,  who  asked  him  why  he  looked  so  troubled, 
and,  on  learning  his  difficulty,  promised  to  help  him  on 
condition  that  he  gave  him  his  daughter  in  marriage. 
To  this  the  Brahman  consented.  The  distiller  gave 
him  a  quantity  of  liquor  to  pour  into  the  tank,  and 
told  him  to  set  It  alight  in  the  presence  of  the  king. 
The  Brahman  kept  his  word,  and  the  Sondis  are  the 
descendants  of  the  offspring  of  his  daughter  and  the 
distiller.  The  caste  is  divided  Into  several  endogamous 
divisions,  viz.,  Bodo  Odiya,  Madhya  kula,  and  Sanno 
kula.  The  last  is  said  to  be  made  up  of  illegitimate 
descendants  of  the  two  first  divisions. 

The  Sondis  distil  liquor  from  the  ippa  (Bassia) 
flower,  rice,  and  jaggery  (crude  sugar).  There  is  a 
tradition  that  Brahma  created  the  world,  and  pinched  up 
from  a  point  between  his  eyebrows  a  little  mud,  from 
which  he  made  a  figure,  and  endowed  It  with  life.  Thus 
Suka  Muni  was  created,  and  authorised  to  distil  spirit 
from  the  ippa  flowers,  which  had  hitherto  been  eaten 
by  birds. 

When  a  girl  reaches  puberty,  she  Is  set  apart  in  a 
room  within  a  square  enclosure  made  with  four  arrows 
connected  together  by  a  thread.  Turmeric  and  oil  are 
rubbed  over  her  daily,  and,  on  the  seventh  day,  she  visits 
the  local  shrine. 

Girls  are  married  before  puberty.  Some  days  before 
a  wedding,  a  sal  (Shorea  robusia)  or  neredu  (Eugenia 
Jambolana)  post  is  set  up  In  front  of  the  bridegroom's 
house,  and  a  pandal  (booth)  erected  round  It.  On  the 
appointed  day,  a  caste  feast  is  held,  and  a  procession  of 
males  proceeds  to  the  bride's  house,  carrying  with  them 

397  SONDI 

finger  rings,  silver  and  glass  bangles,  and  fifty  rupees 
as  the  jholla  tonka  (bride  price).  On  the  following  day, 
the  bride  goes  to  the  house  of  the  bridegroom.  On  the 
marriage  day,  the  contracting  couple  go  seven  times 
round  the  central  post  of  the  pandal,  and  their  hands  are 
joined  by  the  presiding  Oriya  Brahman.  They  then  sit 
down,  and  the  sacred  fire  is  raised.  The  females  belong- 
ing to  the  bridegroom's  party  sprinkle  them  with  turmeric 
and  rice.  On  the  following  day,  a  Bhondari  (barber) 
cleans  the  pandal,  and  draws  patterns  in  it  with  rice 
flour.  A  mat  is  spread,  and  the  couple  play  with  cowry 
shells.  These  are  five  in  number,  and  the  bridegroom 
holds  them  tightly  in  his  right  hand,^  while  the  bride  tries 
to  wrest  them  from  him.  If  she  succeeds  in  so  doing,  her 
brothers  beat  the  bridegroom,  and  make  fun  of  him  ; 
if  she  fails,  the  bridegroom's  sisters  beat  and  make  fun 
of  her.  The  bride  then  takes  hold  of  the  cowries,  and 
the  same  performance  is  gone  through.  A  basket  of 
rice  is  brought,  and  some  of  it  poured  into  a  vessel. 
The  bridegroom  holds  a  portion  of  it  in  his  hand,  and 
the  bride  asks  him  to  put  it  back.  This,  after  a  little 
coaxing,  he  consents  to  do.  These  ceremonies  are 
repeated  during  the  next  five  days.  On  the  seventh 
day,  small  quantities  of  food  are  placed  on  twelve  leaves, 
and  twelve  Brahmans,  who  receive  a  present  of  money, 
sit  down,  and  partake  thereof.  The  marriage  of  widows 
is  permitted,  and  a  younger  brother  may  marry  the 
widow  of  an  elder  brother. 

The  dead  are  burned,  and  death  pollution  lasts  for 
ten  days.  Daily,  during  this  period,  cooked  food  is 
strewed  on  the  way  leading  to  the  burning-ground. 
On  the  eleventh  day,  those  under  pollution  bathe,  and 
the  sacred  fire  (homam)  is  raised  by  a  Brahman.  As  at 
a  wedding,  twelve  Brahmans  receive  food  and  money. 

SONDI  398 

Towards  midnight,  a  new  pot  is  brought,  and  holes  are 
bored  in  it.  A  Hghted  lamp  and  food  are  placed  in 
it,  and  it  is  taken  towards  the  burning-ground  and  set 
down  on  the  ground.  The  dead  man's  name  is  then 
called  out  three  times.  He  is  informed  that  food  is 
ready,  and  asked  to  come. 

Men,  but  not  women,  eat  animal  food.  The  women 
will  not  partake  of  the  remnants  of  their  husbands' 
meal  on  days  on  which  they  eat  meat,  because,  according 
to  the  legend,  their  female  ancestor  was  a  Brahman 

Among  the  Sondis  of  Ganjam,  if  a  girl  does  not  secure 
a  husband  before  she  reaches  maturity,  she  goes  through 
a  form  of  marriage  with  an  old  man  of  the  caste,  or  with 
her  elder  sister's  husband,  and  may  not  marry  until  the 
man  with  whom  she  has  performed  this  ceremony  dies. 
On  the  wedding  day,  the  bridegroom  is  shaved,  and  his 
old  waist-thread  is  replaced  by  a  new  one.  The  cere- 
monies commence  with  the  worship  of  Ganesa,  and 
agree  in  the  main  with  those  of  many  other  Oriya  castes. 
The  remarriage  of  widows  is  permitted.  If  a  widow 
was  the  wife  of  the  first-born  or  eldest  son  in  a  family, 
she  may  not,  after  his  death,  marry  one  of  his  younger 
brothers.  She  may,  however,  do  so  if  she  was  married 
in  the  first  instance  to  a  second  son. 

It  is  noted  by  Mr.  C.  F.  MacCartie,  in  the  Madras 
Census  Report,  1881,  that  "  a  good  deal  of  land  has  been 
sold  by  Khond  proprietors  to  other  castes.  It  was  in 
this  way  that  much  territory  was  found  some  years  ago 
to  be  passing  into  the  hands  of  the  Sundis  or  professional 
liquor  distillers.  As  soon  as  these  facts  were  brought 
to  the  notice  of  Government,  no  time  was  lost  in  the 
adoption  of  repressive  measures,  which  have  been  com- 
pletely successful,  as  the  recent  census  shows  a  great 

399  SONDI 

reduction  in  the  numbers  of  these  Sundis,  who,  now  that 
their  unscrupulous  trade  is  abolished,  have  emigrated 
largely  to  Boad  and  other  tracts.  This  is  the  only  case 
to  my  knowledge  in  which  a  special  trade  has  decayed, 
and  with  the  best  results,  as,  had  it  not  been  so,  there  is 
no  doubt  that  the  Khond  population  would  very  soon 
have  degenerated  into  pure  adscripti  glebes,  and  the 
Sundis  become  the  landlords." 

It  is  recorded,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the  Vizagapatam 
district,   that   "besides  ippa   (liquor  distilled   from  the 
blossom  of  Bassia  latifolia),  the  hill  people  brew  beer 
from  rice,  samai  (the  millet  Panicum  miliare),  and  ragi 
i^Eleusine    Coracana).     They   mash   the   grain    in    the 
ordinary  manner,  add  some  more  water  to  it,  mix  a  small 
quantity  of  ferment  with  it,  leave  it  to  ferment  three  or 
four  days,  and  then  strain  off  the  grain.     The  beer  so 
obtained  is  often  highly  intoxicating,  and  different  kinds 
of  it  go  by  different  names,  such  as  londa,  pandiyam,  and 
maddikallu.     The  ferment  which  is  used  is  called  the 
saraiya-mandu  (spirit  drug)   or    Sondi-mandu    (Sondi's 
drug),  and  can  be  bought  in  the  weekly  market.     There 
are  numerous  recipes  for  making  it,  but  the  ingredients 
are  always  jungle  roots  and  barks."^     It  is  sold  made  up 
into  small   balls   with   rice.     The   actual   shop-keepers 
and  still-owners  in  the  hills,  especially  in  the  Parvatipur 
and  Palkonda  agencies,    are  usually  immigrants  of  the 
Sondi  caste,  a  wily  class  who  know  exactly  how  to  take 
advantage   of  the   sin   which   doth  so  easily   beset  the 
hill  man,  and  to  wheedle  from  him,    in   exchange   for 
the  strong  drink  which  he  cannot  do  without,  his  ready 
money,  his  little  possessions,  his  crops,  and  finally  his 
land  itself. 

*  A  very  complicated  recipe  is  given  in  the  Manual  of  the  Vizagapatam  district, 
1869,  p.  264. 

SONDI  400 

The  Sondis  are  gradually  getting  much  of  the  best 
land  into  their  hands,  and  many  of  the  guileless  hill  ryots 
into  their  power.     Mr.  Taylor  stated  in  1892  that  'the 
rate  of  interest  on  loans  extorted  by  these  Sondis  is  100 
per  cent,  and,  if  this  is  not  cleared  off  in  the  first  year, 
compound  interest  at   100  per  cent,  is  charged  on  the 
balance.     The   result    is    that,    in   many  instances,    the 
cultivators   are    unable    to    pay    in    cash  or  kind,   and 
become  the  gotis  or  serfs  of  the  sowcars,  for  whom  they 
have   to   work    in   return    for   mere    batta   (subsistence 
allowance),    whilst  the    latter  take   care  to  manipulate 
their  accounts  in  such  a  manner  that  the  debt  is  never 
paid   off.     A  remarkable  instance  of  this   tyranny   was 
brought  to  my  notice  a  few  days  since.     A  ryot  some 
fifty  years  ago  borrowed  Rs.  20 ;  he  paid  back  Rs.  50  at 
intervals,  and  worked  for  the  whole  of  his  life,  and  died 
in  harness.     For   the    same   debt  the    sowcar    (money- 
lender) claimed  the  services  of  his  son,  and  he  too  died 
in  bondage,  leaving  two  small  sons  aged  1 3  and  9,  whose 
services  were    also    claimed    for    an   alleged   arrear   of 
Rs.  30  on  a  debt  of  Rs.  20  borrowed  50  years  back,  for 
which  Rs.  50  in  cash  had  been  repaid  in  addition  to  the 
perpetual  labour  of  a  man  for  a  similar  period.'     This 
custom  of  goti  is  firmly  established,  and,   in   a  recent 
case,  an  elder  brother  claimed  to  be  able  to  pledge  for 
his  own  debts  the  services  of  his  younger  brother,   and 
even  those  of  the  latter's  wife.     Debts  due  by  persons  of 
respectability  are  often  collected  by  the  Sondis  by  an 
exasperating  method,  which  has  led  to  at  least  one  case 
of  homicide.     They  send  Ghasis,  who  are  one  of  the 
lowest  of  all  castes,  and  contact  with  whom  is  utter  defile- 
ment entailing  severe  caste  penalties,  to  haunt  the  house 
of  the  debtor  who  will  not  pay,  insult  and  annoy  him  and 
his  family,  and  threaten  to  drag  him  forcibly  before  the 


Sondi."  A  friend  was,  on  one  occasion,  out  after  big 
game  in  the  Jeypore  hills,  and  shot  a  tiger.  He  asked 
his  shikari  (tracker)  what  reward  he  should  give  him  for 
putting  him  on  to  the  beast.  The  shikari  replied  that  he 
would  be  quite  satisfied  with  twenty-five  rupees,  as  he 
wanted  to  get  his  younger  brother  out  of  pledge.  Asked 
what  he  meant,  he  replied  that,  two  years  previously,  he 
had  purchased  as  his  wife  a  woman  who  belonged  to  a 
caste  higher  than  his  own  for  a  hundred  rupees.  He 
obtained  the  money  by  pledging  his  younger  brother  to 
a  sowcar,  and  had  paid  it  all  back  except  twenty-five 
rupees.  Meanwhile  his  brother  was  the  bondsman  of 
the  sowcar,  and  cultivating  his  land  in  return  for  simple 

It  is  further  recorded,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the 
Vizagapatam  district,  that  Dombu  (or  Domb)  dacoits 
"  force  their  way  into  the  house  of  some  wealthy 
person  (for  choice  the  local  Sondi  liquor-seller  and 
sowcar — usually  the  only  man  worth  looting  in  an 
Agency  village,  and  a  shark  who  gets  little  pity 
from  his  neighbours  when  forced  to  disgorge),  tie  up 
the  men,  rape  the  women,  and  go  off  with  everything 
of  value." 

The  titles  of  the  Ganjam  Sondis  are  Behara, 
Chowdri,  Podhano,  and  Sahu.  In  the  Vizagapatam 
agency  tracts,  their  title  is  said  to  be  Bissoyi. 

Sonkari.-— The  Sonkaris  are  a  small  class  of  Oriya 
lac  bangle  (sonka)  makers  in  Ganjam  and  Vizagapatam., 
who  should  not  be  confused  with  the  Telugu  Sunkaris. 
The  men  are  engaged  in  agriculture,  and  the  women 
manufacture  the  bangles,  chains,  chamaras  (fly-flappers), 
kolatam  sticks  (for  stick  play),  and  fans  ornamented 
with  devices  in  paddy  (unhusked  rice)  grains,  which  are 
mainly  sold  to  Europeans  as  curios. 


Sonkari  girls  are  married  before  puberty.  A  man 
should  marry  his  paternal  aunt's  daughter,  but  at  the 
present  day  this  custom  is  frequently  disregarded. 
Brahmans  officiate  at  their  marriages.  The  dead  are 
cremated.     The  caste  title  is  Patro. 

Sonkuva.— A  sub-division  of  Mali. 

Sonti  (dried  ginger). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Asili. 

Soppu  (leaf). — The  name  for  Koragas,  who  wear 
leafy  garments. 

Sozhia.— A  territorial  name  of  sub-divisions  of 
various  Tamil  classes  who  are  settled  in  what  was 
formerly  the  Ch5la  country,  e.g.^  Brahman,  Chetti, 
Kaikolan,  Kammalan,  Pallan,  and  Vellala. 

Srishti  Karnam.-~A  sub-division  of  Karnam.  The 
name  is  variously  spelt,  e.g.,  Sristi,  Sishta,  Sishti.  The 
name  Sishti  Karanamalu  is  said  to  have  been  assumed 
by  Oddilu,  who  have  raised  themselves  in  life.* 

Stala  (a  place). — Lingayats  sometimes  use  the  word 
Staladavaru,  or  natives  of  a  place,  to  distinguish  them 
from  recent  settlers. 

Stanika.— The  Stanikas  are  summed  up,  in  the 
Madras  Census  Report,  1901,  as  being  "  Canarese 
temple  servants.  They  claim  to  be  Brahmans,  though 
other  Brahmans  do  not  admit  the  claim  ;  and,  as  the 
total  of  the  caste  has  declined  from  4,650  in  1891  to  1,469, 
they  have  apparently  returned  themselves  as  Brahmans 
in  considerable  numbers."  The  Stanikas  are,  in  the 
South  Canara  Manual,  said  to  be  "the  descendants  of 
Brahmins  by  Brahmin  widows  and  outcast  Brahmin 
women,  corresponding  with  Manu's  Golaka.  They 
however  now  claim  to  be  Siva  Brahmins,  forcibly  dis- 
possessed of  authority  by  the  Madhvas,  and  state  that 

•  Rev.  J.  Cain,  Ind.  Ant.,  VIII,  1879. 


the  name  Stanika  is  not  that  of  a  separate  caste,  but 
indicates  their  profession  as  managers  of  temples,  with 
the  title  of  Deva  Stanika.  This  claim  is  not  generally- 
conceded,  and  as  a  matter  of  fact  the  duties  in  which 
Stanikas  are  employed  are  clearly  those  of  temple 
servants,  namely,  collecting  flowers,  sweeping  the 
interiors  of  temples,  looking  after  the  lamps,  cleaning 
the  temple  vessels,  ringing  bells,  and  the  like.  Many 
of  them,  however,  are  landowners  and  farmers.  They 
are  generally  Sivites,  and  wear  the  sacred  thread.  Their 
special  deities  are  Venkatramana  and  Ganapati.  Dravida 
Brahmins  officiate  as  their  priests,  but  of  late  some 
educated  men  of  the  caste  have  assumed  the  priestly 
office.  The  caste  has  two  sub-divisions,  viz.,  Subra- 
mania  and  Kumbla.  Girls  must  be  married  in  infancy, 
i.e.,  before  they  attain  puberty.  Widow  remarriage  is 
neither  permitted  nor  practiced.  Their  other  customs 
are  almost  the  same  as  those  of  the  Kota  Brahmans. 
They  neither  eat  flesh  nor  drink  liquor."  It  is  stated 
in  the  Manual  that  the  Stanikas  are  called  Shanbogs 
and  Mukhtesars.  But  I  am  informed  that  at  an  inquest 
or  a  search  the  Moktessors  or  Mukhtesars  (chief 
men)  of  a  village  are  assembled,  and  sign  the  inquest 
report  or  search  list.  The  Moktessors  of  any  caste 
can  be  summoned  together.  Some  of  the  Moktessors  of 
a  temple  may  be  Stanikas.  In  the  case  of  social  dis- 
putes decided  at  caste  meetings,  the  Shanbog  (writer 
or  accountant)  appointed  by  the  caste  would  record 
the  evidence,  and  the  Moktessor  would  decide  upon 
the  facts. 

Of  the  two  sections  Subramanya  and  Kumbla,  the 

former  claim  superiority,  and  there  is  no  intermarriage 

between  them.     The  members  of  the  Subramanya  section 

state  that  they  belong  to  Rig  Saka  (Rig  Veda)  and  have 

vi-a6  B 


gotras,  such  as  Viswamitra,  Angirasa,  and  Baradwaja, 
and  twelve  exogamous  septs.  Of  these  septs,  the 
following  are  examples  : — 

Arli  {Ficus  religiosa).  I   Konde,  tassel  or  hair-knot 

Aththi  {Flats  glomerata).  Adhikari. 

Bandi,  cart.  Pandita. 

Kethaki  {Pandanus  fascicularis).  \    Heggade. 

The  famous  temple  of  Subramanya  is  said  to  have 
been  in  charge  of  the  Subramanya  Stanikas,  till  it  was 
wrested  from  them  by  the  Shivalli  Brahmans.  In  former 
times,  the  privilege  of  sticking  a  golden  ladle  into  a  heap 
of  food  piled  up  in  the  temple,  on  the  Shasti  day  or  sixth 
day  after  the  new  moon  in  December,  is  said  to  have  be- 
longed to  the  Stanikas.  They  also  brought  earth  from 
an  ant-hill  on  the  previous  day.  Food  from  the  heap 
and  earth  are  received  as  sacred  articles  by  devotees 
who  visit  the  sacred  shrine.  A  large  number  of  Stani- 
kas are  still  attached  to  temples,  where  they  perform 
the  duties  of  cleaning  the  vessels,  washing  rice,  placing 
cooked  food  on  the  bali  pitam  (altar  stone),  etc.  The 
food  placed  on  the  stone  is  eaten  by  Stanikas,  but  not  by 
Brahmans.  In  the  Mysore  province,  a  Brahman  woman 
who  partakes  of  this  food  loses  her  caste,  and  becomes  a 

At  times  of  census,  Sivadvija  and  Siva  Brahman  have 
been  given  as  synonyms  of  Stanika. 

Sthavara.— -Recorded,  at  times  of  census,  as  a  sub- 
division of  Jangam.  The  lingam,  which  Lingayats  carry 
on  some  part  of  the  body,  is  called  the  jangama  lingam 
or  moveable  lingam,  to  distinguish  it  from  the  sthavara 
or  fixed  lingam  of  temples. 

Subuddhi.— A  title,  meaning  one  having  good 
sense,  among  several  Oriya  castes. 

Sudarman.— 6*^^  Udaiyan. 


SuddhO.— Two  distinct  castes  go  by  this  name,  viz., 
the  Savaras  who  have  settled  in  the  plains,  and  a  small 
class  of  agriculturists  and  paiks  (servants)  in  the  low 
country  of  Ganjam.  The  Suddhos  who  live  in  the  hills 
eat  fowls  and  drink  liquor,  which  those  in  the  plains 
abstain  from.  The  caste  name  Sudd  ho  means  pure,  and 
is  said  to  have  its  origin  in  the  fact  that  Suddho  paiks 
used  to  tie  the  turbans  of  the  kings  of  Gumsur.  Like 
other  Oriya  castes,  the  Suddhos  have  Podhano,  Bissoyi, 
Behara,  etc.,  as  titles.  The  caste  has  apparently  come 
into  existence  in  recent  times. 

Sudra. — The  fourth  of  the  traditional  castes  of  Manu. 
The  Sudra  Nayars  supply  the  female  servants  in  the 
houses  of  Nambutiris. 

Sudra  Kavutiyan. — A  name  adopted  by  barbers 
who  shave  Nayars,  to  distinguish  them  from  other 

Sudugadusiddha. — The  name  is  derived  from 
sudugadu,  a  burning-ground.  In  the  Mysore  Census 
Report,  1901,  they  are  described  as  being  "mendicants 
like  the  Jogis,  like  whom  they  itinerate.  They  were 
once  lords  of  burning-grounds,  to  whom  the  Kulavadi 
(see  Holeya),  who  takes  the  cloth  of  the  deceased  and 
a  fee  for  every  dead  body  burned,  paid  something  as 
acknowledging  their  overlordship."  These  people  are 
described  by  Mr.  J.  S.  F.  Mackenzie,*  under  the  name 
Sudgudu  Siddha,  or  lords  of  the  burning-ground,  as 
agents  who  originally  belonged  to  the  Gangadikara  Vak- 
kaliga  caste,  and  have  become  a  separate  caste,  called 
after  their  head  Sudgudu  Siddharu.  They  intermarry 
among  themselves,  and  the  office  of  agent  is  hereditary. 
They  have  particular  tracts  of  country  assigned  to  them, 

•  Ind.  Am.  II,  1873. 

SUGALl  406 

when  on  tour  collecting  burial  fees.  They  can  be  recog- 
nised by  the  wooden  bell  in  addition  to  the  usual  metal 
one,  which  they  always  carry  about.  Without  this  no  one 
would  acknowledge  the  agent's  right  to  collect  the  fees. 

Sugali.^Sugali  and  Sukali  are  synonyms  of 
Lam  bad  i. 

Sugamanchi  Balija.— A  name  said  to  mean  the 
best  of  Balijas,  and  used  as  a  synonym  for  Gazula 

Sukka  (star). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Yerukala. 
The  equivalent  Sukra  occurs  as  a  gotra  of  Oriya 

Sule.—- A  Canarese  name  for  professional  prostitutes. 
Temple  dancing-girls  object  to  the  name,  as  being  low. 
They  call  themselves  Vesyas  or  Besyas,  Naiksani,  or 
Naikini  (Naik  females). 

Sullokondia. — The  highest  sub-division  of  the 
Gaudos,  from  whose  hands  Oriya  Brahmans  will  accept 

SunSir.'—'See  Sonar. 

Sundarattan. — A  sub-division  of  Nattukottai  Chetti. 

Sundi.— 5^^  Sondi. 

Sunkari.^The  Sunkari  or  Sunkara-vandlu  are  culti- 
vators, fishermen,  and  raftsmen  in  the  Godavari  district. 
According  to  the  Rev.  J.  Cain*  they  come  from  some 
part  of  the  Central  Provinces,  and  are  not  regarded  as 
outcasts,  as  stated  in  the  Central  Provinces  Gazetteer. 

Sunna  Akki  (thin  rice). — A  family  name  or  bedagu 
of  Donga  Dasari. 

Sunnambukkaran  (lime  man). — Ah  occupational 
name  for  Paravas,  Paraiyans,  and  other  classes,  who  are 
employed  as  lime  (chunam)  burners.    Sunnapu,  meaning 

Ind.  Ant.  VIII,   1879. 

407  SWAYl 

shell  or  quick-lime,  occurs  as  an  exogamous  sept  of 

Sunnata.— A  sub-division  of  Kurumbas,  who  are 
said  to  make  only  white  blankets. 

Surakkudi.— A  section  or  kovil  (temple)  of  Nattu- 
kottai  Chetti. 

Surti.— The  name  for  domestic  servants  of  Euro- 
peans in  Bombay,  who  come  from  Surat. 

Surya  (the  sun). — Recorded  as  a  sept  of  Domb, 
Kuruba,  and  Pentiya,  and  a  sub-division  of  Ambalak- 
karan.  The  equivalent  Suryavamsam  (people  of  the  solar 
race)  occurs  as  a  sub-division  of  Razu,  and  as  a  synonym 
of  the  Konda  Doras  or  Konda  Kapus,  some  of  whom 
style  themselves  Raja  (=  Razu)  Kapus  or  Reddis. 

Sutakulam.— A  name  by  which  the  Besthas  call 
themselves.  They  claim  descent  from  the  Rishi  Suta 
Mahamuni.  It  has  been  suggested  *  as  probable  that  the 
Besthas  gained  the  name  from  their  superiority  in  the 
culinary  art,  suta  meaning  cook. 

Sutarlu.— -Recorded  by  the  Rev.  J.  Cainf  as  brick- 
layers and  masons  in  the  Godavari  district. 

Suthala  (needle). — An  exogamous  sept  of  Kamma. 

Svarupam. — Svarupam  has  been  defined  J  as  "a 
dynasty,  usually  confined  to  the  four  principal  dynasties, 
termed  the  Kola,  Nayaririppu,  Perimbadappu,  and 
Trippa  Svarupam,  represented  by  the  Kolatiri  or  Chirakal 
Rajah,  the  Zamorin,  and  the  Cochin  and  Travancore 
Rajahs."  Svarupakkar  or  Svarupathil,  meaning  servants 
of  Svarupams  or  kingly  houses,  is  an  occupational  sub- 
division of  Nayar. 

Swayi.^A  title  of  Alia,  Aruva,  Kalinji,  and  other 
Oriya  classes. 

*  Manual  of  the  North  Arcot  district.  f  ^^^-  Ant.  VIII,  1879. 

%  Wigram,    Malabar  Law  and  Customs. 


Swetambara  (clad  in  white). — One  of  the  two  main 
divisions  of  the  Jains. 

Syrian  Christian.^The  following  note,  containing 
a  summary  of  the  history  of  a  community  in  connection 
With  which  the  literature  is  considerable,  is  mainly 
abstracted  from  the  Cochin  Census  Report,  1901,  with 

The  Syrian  Christians  have  "  sometimes  been  called 
the  Christians  of  the  Serra  (a  Portuguese  word,  meaning 
mountains).  This  arose  from  the  fact  of  their  living  at 
the  foot  of  the  ghauts."  *  The  glory  of  the  introduction 
of  the  teachings  of  Christ  to  India  is,  by  time-honoured 
tradition,  ascribed  to  the  apostle  Saint  Thomas.  Accord- 
ing to  this  tradition  so  dearly  cherished  by  the  Christians 
of  this  coast,  about  52  A.D.  the  apostle  landed  at  Malan- 
kara,  or,  more  correctly,  at  Maliankara  near  Cranganur 
(Kodungallur),  the  Mouziris  of  the  Greeks,  or  Muyirikode 
of  the  Jewish  copper  plates.  Mouziris  was  a  port  near 
the  mouth  of  a  branch  of  the  Alwaye  river,  much  fre- 
quented in  their  early  voyages  by  the  Phoenician  and 
European  traders  for  the  pepper  and  spices  of  this  coast, 
and  for  the  purpose  of  taking  in  fresh  water  and  provi- 
sions. The  story  goes  that  Saint  Thomas  founded  seven 
churches  in  different  stations  in  Cochin  and  Travancore, 
and  converted,  among  others,  many  Brahmans,  notably 
the  Cally,  Calliankara,  Sankarapuri,  and  Pakalomattam 
Nambudri  families,  the  members  of  the  last  claiming  the 
rare  distinction  of  having  been  ordained  as  priests  by  the 
apostle  himself  He  then  extended  his  labours  to  the 
Coromandel  coast,  where,  after  making  many  converts, 
he  is  said  to  have  been  pierced  with  a  lance  by  some 
Brahmans,   and    to  have  been  buried   in  the  church  of 

*  Rev.  W.  J.  Richards.   The  Indian  Christians  of  Saint  Thomas. 



St.  Thom6,  in  Mylapore,  a  suburb  of  the  town  of 
Madras.  Writing  concerning  the  prevalence  of  ele- 
phantiasis in  Malabar,  Captain  Hamilton  records  *  that 
**  the  old  Romish  Legendaries  impute  the  cause  of  those 
great  swell'd  legs  to  a  curse  Saint  Thomas  laid  upon  his 
murderers  and  their  posterity,  and  that  was  the  odious 
mark  they  should  be  distinguished  by."  "  Pretty  early 
tradition  associates  Thomas  with  Parthia,t  Philip  with 
Phrygia,  Andrew  with  Syria,  and  Bartholomew  with 
India,  but  later  traditions  make  the  apostles  divide  the 
various  countries  between  them  by  lot."|  Even  if  the 
former  supposition  be  accepted,  there  is  nothing  very 
improbable  in  Saint  Thomas  having  extended  his  work 
from  Parthia  to  India.  Others  argue  that,  even  if  there 
be  any  truth  in  the  tradition  of  the  arrival  of  Saint 
Thomas  in  India,  this  comprised  the  countries  in  the 
north-west  of  India,  or  at  most  the  India  of  Alexander 
the  Great,  and  not  the  southern  portion  of  the  penin- 
sula, where  the  seeds  of  Christianity  are  said  to  have 
been  first  sown,  because  the  voyage  to  this  part  of  India, 
then  hardly  known,  was  fraught  with  the  greatest  diffi- 
culties and  dangers,  not  to  speak  of  its  tediousness.  It 
may,  however,  be  observed  that  the  close  proximity  of 
Alexandria  to  Palestine,  and  its  importance  at  the  time 
as  the  emporium  of  the  trade  between  the  East  and  West, 
afforded  sufficient  facilities  for  a  passage  to  India.  If 
the  Roman  line  of  traffic  via  Alexandria  and  the  Red 
Sea  was  long  and  tedious,  the  route  via  the  Persian 
Gulf  was  comparatively  easy. 

When  we  come  to  the  second  century,  we  read  of 
Demetrius  of  Alexandria  receiving  a  message  from  some 

•  A  New  Account  of  the  East  Indies,  1744. 

t   Vide  G.  Milne  Rae.     The  Syrian  Church  in  India,  1892. 

X  Encyclopaedia  Britannica,  9th  ed. 


natives  of  India,  earnestly  begging  for  a  teacher"^  to 
instruct  them  in  the  doctrines  of  Christianity.  Hear- 
ing this,  Pantaenus,  Principal  of  the  Christian  College 
of  Alexandria,  an  Athenian  stoic,  an  eminent  preacher 
and  "  a  very  great  gnosticus,  who  had  penetrated  most 
profoundly  into  the  spirit  of  scripture,"  sailed  from 
Berenice  for  Malabar  between  180  and  190  A.D.  He 
found  his  arrival  "anticipated  by  some  who  were 
acquainted  with  the  Gospel  of  Mathew,  to  whom 
Bartholomew,  one  of  the  apostles,  had  preached,  and 
had  left  them  the  same  Gospel  in  Hebrew,  which  also 
was  preserved  until  this  time.  Returning  to  Alexandria, 
he  presided  over  the  College  of  Catechumens."  Early 
in  the  third  century,  St.  Hippolytus,  Bishop  of  Portus, 
also  assigns  the  conversion  of  India  to  the  apostle 
Bartholomew.  To  Thomas  he  ascribes  Persia  and 
the  countries  of  Central  Asia,  although  he  mentions 
Calamina,  "  a  city  of  India,"  as  the  place  where  Thomas 
suffered  death.  The  Rev.  J.  Hough*  observes  that  "  it 
is  indeed  highly  problematical  that  Saint  Bartholomew 
was  ever  in  India."  It  may  be  remarked  that  there  are 
no  local  traditions  associating  the  event  with  his  name, 
and,  if  Saint  Bartholomew  laboured  at  all  on  this  coast, 
there  is  no  reason  why  the  earliest  converts  of  Malabar 
should  have  preferred  the  name  of  Thomas  to  that  of 
Bartholomew.  Though  Mr.  Hough  and  Sir  W.  W. 
Hunter,t  among  others,  discredit  the  mission  of  St. 
Thomas  in  the  first  century,  they  both  accept  the  story 
of  the  mission  of  Pantaenus.  Mr.  Hough  says  that  "  it  is 
probable  that  these  Indians  (who  appealed  to  Demetrius) 
were     converts    or    children     of    former    converts    to 

*  See  Hough,  the  History  of  Christianity  in  India  from  the  commencement 
of  the  Christian  Era. 

•f-  Indian  Empire,  3rd  edition. 


Christianity."  If,  in  the  second  century,  there  could  be 
children  of  former  converts  in  India,  it  is  not  clear  why 
the  introduction  of  Christianity  to  India  in  the  first 
century,  and  that  by  St.  Thomas,  should  be  so  seriously 
questioned  and  set  aside  as  being  a  myth,  especially  in 
view  of  the  weight  of  the  subjoined  testimony,  associating 
the  work  with  the  name  of  the  apostle. 

In  the  Asiatic  Journal  (Vol.  VI),  Mr.  Whish  refutes  the 
assertions  made  by  Mr.  Wrede  in  the  Asiatic  Researches 
(Vol.  VII)  that  the  Christians  of  Malabar  settled  in  that 
country  "  during  the  violent  persecution  of  the  sect  of 
Nestorius  under  Theodosius  II,  or  some  time  after," 
and  says,  with  reference  to  the  date  of  the  Jewish  colonies 
in  India,  that  the  Christians  of  the  country  were  settled 
long  anterior  to  the  period  mentioned  by  Mr.  Wrede. 
Referring  to  the  acts  and  journeyings  of  the  apostles, 
Dorotheus,  Bishop  of  Tyre  (254-313  A.D.),  says  "the 
Apostle  Thomas,  after  having  preached  the  Gospel  to 
the  Parthians,  Medes,  Persians,  Germanians,  Bactrians, 
and  Magi,  suffered  martyrdom  at  Calamina,  a  town  of 
India."  It  is  said  that,  at  the  Council  of  Nice  held  in 
325  A.D.,  India  was  represented  by  Johannes,  Bishop  of 
India  Maxima  and  Persia.  St.  Gregory  of  Nazianzen 
(370-392  A.D.),  in  answering  the  reproach  of  his  being 
a  stranger,  asks  "  Were  not  the  apostles  strangers  ? 
Granting  that  Judaea  was  the  country  of  Peter,  what  had 
Paul  in  common  with  the  Gentiles,  Luke  with  Achaia, 
Andrew  with  Epirus,  John  with  Ephesus,  Thomas  with 
India,  Mark  with  Italy".-*  St.  Jerome(39o  A.  D.)  testifies 
to  the  general  belief  in  the  mission  of  St.  Thomas  to 
India.  He  too  mentions  Calamina  as  the  town  where 
the  apostle  met  with  his  death.  Baronius  thinks  that, 
when  Theodoret,  the  Church  historian  (430-458  A.D.), 
speaks  of  the  apostles,  he  evidently  associates  the  work 


in  India  with  the  name  of  St.  Thomas.  St.  Gregory  of 
Torus  relates  that  "in  that  place  in  India,  where  the 
body  of  Thomas  lay  before  it  was  transferred  to  Edessa, 
there  is  a  monastery  and  temple  of  great  size."  Floren- 
tius  asserts  that  "  nothing  with  more  certainty  I  find  in 
the  works  of  the  Holy  Fathers  than  that  St.  Thomas 
preached  the  Gospel  in  India."  Rufinus,  who  stayed 
twenty-five  years  in  Syria,  says  that  the  remains  of 
St.  Thomas  were  brought  from  India  to  Edessa.  Two 
Arabian  travellers  of  the  ninth  century,  referred  to  by 
Renaudot,  assert  that  St.  Thomas  died  at  Mailapur. 

Coming  to  modern  times,  we  have  several  authorities, 
who  testify  to  the  apostolic  origin  of  the  Indian  Church, 
regarded  as  apocryphal  by  Mr.  Milne  Rae,  Sir  W.  W. 
Hunter,  and  others.  The  historian  of  the  '  Indian 
Empire,'  while  rejecting  some  of  the  strongest  arguments 
advanced  by  Mr.  Milne  Rae,  accepts  his  conclusions  in 
regard  to  the  apostolic  origin.  The  Romanist  Portu- 
guese in  their  enthusiasm  coloured  the  legends  to  such 
an  extent  as  to  make  them  appear  incredible,  and  the 
Protestant  writers  of  modern  times,  while  distrusting 
the  Portuguese  version,  are  not  agreed  as  to  the 
rare  personage  that  introduced  Christianity  to  India. 
Mr.  Wrede  asserts  that  the  Christians  of  Malabar  settled 
in  that  country  during  the  violent  persecution  of  the  sect 
of  Nestorius  under  Theodosius  II,  or  some  time  after. 
Dr.  Burnell  traces  the  origin  to  the  Manicheean  Thomas, 
who  flourished  towards  the  end  of  the  third  century. 
Mr.  Milne  Rae  brings  the  occurrence  of  the  event  down 
to  the  sixth  century  of  the  Christian  era.  Sir  William 
Hunter,  without  associating  the  foundation  of  the 
Malabar  Church  with  the  name  of  any  particular  person, 
states  the  event  to  have  taken  place  some  time  in  the 
second  century,  long  before  the  advent  of  Thomas  the 


Manichaean,  but  considers  that  the  name  St.  Thomas 
Christians  was  adopted  by  the  Christians  in  the  eighth 
century.     He  observes  that  "the  early  legend  of  the 
Manichaean  Thomas  in  the  third  century  and  the  later 
labours  of  the  Armenian  Thomas,  the  rebuilder  of  the 
Malabar  Church  in  the  eighth  century,  endeared  that 
name   to   the   Christians    of  Southern   India."     [It  has 
recently  been  stated,  with  reference  to  the  tradition  that 
it  was  St.   Thomas  the  apostle  who   first   evangelised 
Southern  India,  that,  "  though  this  tradition  is  no  more 
capable  of  disproof  than  of  proof,  those  authorities  seem 
to  be  on  safer  ground,  who  are  content  to  hold  that 
Christianity  was  first  imported  into  India  by  Nestorian 
or  Chaldsean  missionaries  from  Persia  and  Mesopotamia, 
whose   apostolic    zeal   between    the   sixth   and    twelfth 
centuries  ranged  all  over  Asia,    even    into   Tibet   and 
Tartary.     The   seat   of  the    Nestorian    Patriarchate    of 
Babylon  was  at  Bagdad,  and,  as  it  claimed  to  be  par 
excellence  the  Church  of  St.  Thomas,  this  might  well 
account  for  the  fact  that  the  proselytes  it  won  over  in 
India  were  in  the  habit  of  calling  themselves  Christians 
of  St.  Thomas.     It  is,  to  say  the   least,  a  remarkable 
coincidence  that  one  of  the  three  ancient  stone  crosses 
preserved   in    India   bears   an   inscription   and   devices, 
which  are  stated  to  resemble  those  on  the  cross  discov- 
ered near  Singanfu  in  China,  recording  the  appearance 
of  Nestorian  missionaries  in  Shenshi  in  the  early  part 
of  the  seventh  century."] 

As  already  said,  there  are  those  who  attribute  the 
introduction  of  the  Gospel  to  a  certain  Thomas,  a  disciple 
of  Manes,  who  is  supposed  to  have  come  to  India  in  277 
A.D.,  finding  in  this  an  explanation  of  the  origin  of  the 
Manigramakars  (inhabitants  of  the  village  of  Manes)  of 
Kayenkulam  near  Quilon.     Coming  to  the  middle  of  the 


fourth  century,  we  read  of  a  Thomas  Cana,  an  Aramaean 
or  Syrian  merchant,  or  a  divine,  as  some  would  have  it, 
who,  having  in  his  travels  seen  the  neglected  conditions 
of  the  flock  of  Christ  on  the  Malabar  coast,  returned  to 
his  native  land,  sought  the  assistance  of  the  Catholics 
of  Bagdad,  came  back  with  a  train  of  clergymen  and  a 
pretty  large  number  of  Syrians,  and  worked  vigorously 
to  better  their  spiritual  condition.  He  is  said  to  have 
married  two  Indian  ladies,  the  disputes  of  succession 
between  whose  children  appear,  according  to  some 
writers,  to  have  given  rise  to  the  two  names  of  Northern- 
ers (Vadakkumbagar)  and  Southerners  (Thekkumbagar) 
— a  distinction  which  is  still  jealously  kept  up.  The 
authorities  are,  however,  divided  as  to  the  date  of  his 
arrival,  for,  while  some  assign  345  A.D.,  others  give  745 
A.D.  It  is  just  possible  that  this  legend  but  records 
the  advent  of  two  waves  of  colonists  from  Syria  at 
different  times,  and  their  settlement  in  different  stations  ; 
and  Thomas  Cana  was  perhaps  the  leader  of  the  first 
migration.  The  Syrian  tradition  explains  the  origin 
of  the  names  in  a  different  way,  for,  according  to  it, 
the  foreigners  or  colonists  from  Syria  lived  in  the 
southern  street  of  Cranganur  or  Kodungallur,  and  the 
native  converts  in  the  northern  street.  After  their 
dispersion  from  Cranganur,  the  Southerners  kept  up 
their  pride  and  prestige  by  refusing  to  intermarry, 
while  the  name  of  Northerners  came  to  be  applied  to 
all  Native  Christians  other  than  the  Southerners.  At 
their  wedding  feasts,  the  Southerners  sing  songs  com- 
memorating their  colonization  at  Kodungallur,  their 
dispersion  from  there,  and  settlement  in  different  places. 
They  still  retain  some  foreign  tribe  names,  to  which 
the  original  colony  is  said  to  have  belonged.  A  few 
of  these  names  are  Baji,  Kojah,  Kujalik,  and  Majamuth. 


Their  leader  Thomas  Cana  is  said  to  have  visited  the 
last  of  the  Perumals  and  to  have  obtained  several 
privileges  for  the  benefit  of  the  Christians.  He  is 
supposed  to  have  built  a  church  at  Mahadevarpattanam, 
or  more  correctly  Mahodayapuram,  near  Kodungallur 
in  the  Cochin  State,  the  capital  of  the  Perumals  or 
Viceroys  of  Kerala,  and,  in  their  documents,  the  Syrian 
Christians  now  and  again  designate  themselves  as  being 
inhabitants  of  Mahadevarpattanam. 

In  the  Syrian  seminary  at  KOttayam  are  preserved 
two  copper-plate  charters,  one  granted  by  Vira  Raghava 
Chakravarthi,  and  the  other  by  Sthanu  Ravi  Gupta,  sup- 
posed to  be  dated  774  A.D.  and  824  A.D.  Specialists, 
who  have  attempted  to  fix  approximately  the  dates  of 
the  grants,  however,  differ,  as  will  be  seen  from  a 
discussion  of  the  subject  by  Mr.  V.  Venkayya  in  the 
Epigraphia  Indica."^ 

Concerning  the  plate  of  Vira  Raghava,  Mr.  Venkayya 
there  writes  as  follows.  "  The  subjoined  inscription  is 
engraved  on  both  sides  of  a  single  copper-plate,  which  is 
in  the  possession  of  the  Syrian  Christians  at  Kottayam. 
The  plate  has  no  seal,  but,  instead,  a  conch  is  engraved 
about  the  middle  of  the  left  margin  of  the  second  side. 
This  inscription  has  been  previously  translated  by  Dr. 
Gundert.t  Mr.  Kookel  Keloo  Nair  has  also  attempted 
a  version  of  the  grant. J  In  the  translation  I  have  mainly 
followed  Dr.  Gundert." 


Hari  !  Prosperity  !  Adoration  to  the  great  Ganapati ! 
On   the   day   of  (the    Nakshatra)    Rohini,    a   Saturday 

•  IV.     290-97,   1896-7. 

t  Madras  Journ.  Lit.  and  Science,  XIII,  part,  Ii8.     Dr.  Gnndert's  transla- 
tion is  reprinted  in  Mr.  Logan's  Malabar,  Vol.  II,  Appendix  XII. 
J  Madras  Journ,  Lit.  and  Science,  XXI,  35-38. 


after  the  expiration  of  the  twenty-first  (day)  of  the 
solar  month  Mina  (of  the  year  during  which)  Jupiter 
(was)  in  Makara,  while  the  glorious  Vira-Raghava- 
Chakravartin, — (of  the  race)  that  has  been  wielding 
the  sceptre  for  several  hundred  thousands  of  years 
in  regular  succession  from  the  glorious  king  of  kings, 
the  glorious  Vira-Kerala-Chakravartin — was  ruling 
prosperously : — 

While  (we  were)  pleased  to  reside  in  the  great 
palace,  we  conferred  the  title  of  Manigramam  on 
Iravikorttan,  a/ias  Seramanloka-pperun-jetti  of  Mago- 

We  (also)  gave  (him  the  right  of)  festive  clothing, 
house  pillars,  the  income  that  accrues,  the  export 
trade  (?),  monopoly  of  trade,  (the  right  of)  proclamation, 
forerunners,  the  five  musical  instruments,  a  conch,  a 
lamp  in  day-time,  a  cloth  spread  (in  front  to  walk  on),  a 
palanquin,  the  royal  parasol,  the  Telugu  (?)  drum,  a 
gateway  with  an  ornamental  arch,  and  monopoly  of 
trade  in  the  four  quarters. 

We  (also)  gave  the  oilmongers  and  the  five  (classes 
of)  artisans  as  (his)  slaves. 

We  (also)  gave,  with  a  libation  of  water — having 
(caused  it  to  be)  written  on  a  copper-plate — to  Iravi- 
korttan, who  is  the  lord  of  the  city,  the  brokerage 
on  (articles)  that  may  be  measured  with  the  para, 
weighed  by  the  balance  or  measured  with  the  tape, 
that  may  be  counted  or  weighed,  and  on  all  other 
(articles)  that  are  intermediate — including  salt,  sugar, 
musk  (and)  lamp  oil — and  also  the  customs  levied 
on  these  (articles)  between  the  river  mouth  of  Kodun- 
gulur  and  the  gate  (gopura) — chiefly  between  the 
four  temples  (tali)  and  the  village  adjacent  to  (each) 


We  gave  (this)  as  property  to  Sdramin-loka-pperun- 
jetti,  alias  Iravikorttan,  and  to  his  children's  children 
in  due  succession. 

(The  witnesses)  who  know  this  (are) : — We  ^ave  (it) 
with  the  knowledge  of  the  villagers  of  Panniyt^r  and  the 
villagers  of  Sogiram.  We  gave  (it)  with  the  knowledge 
(of  the  authorities)  of  V^nddu  and  Odunadu.  We  gave 
(it)  with  the  knowledge  (of  the  authorities)  of  Eranidu 
and  Valluvanadu.  We  gave  (it)  for  the  time  that  the 
moon  and  the  sun  shall  exist. 

The  hand-writing  of  Seraman-loka-pperun-dattan 
Nambi  Sadeyan,  who  wrote  (this)  copper-plate  with  the 
knowledge  of  these  (witnesses). 

Mr.  Venkayya  adds  that  "  it  was  supposed  by  Dr. 
Burnell  *  that  the  plate  of  Vtra-Raghava  created  the 
principality  of  Manigramam,  and  the  Cochin  plates  that 
of  Anjuvannam.f  The  Cochin  plates  did  not  create 
Anjuvannam,  but  conferred  the  honours  and  privileges 
connected  therewith  to  a  Jew  named  Rabban.  Similarly, 
the  rights  and  honours  associated  with  the  other  corpo- 
ration, Manigramam,  were  bestowed  at  a  later  period 
on  Ravikkorran.  It  is  just  possible  that  Ravikkorran 
was  a  Christian  by  religion.  But  his  name  and  title 
give  no  clue  in  this  direction,  and  there  is  nothing 
Christian  in  the  document,  except  its  possession  by  the 
present  owners.  On  this  name,  Dr.  Gundert  first  said  \ 
*  Iravi  Corttan  must  be  a  Nasrani  name,  though  none 
of  the  Syrian  priests  whom  I  saw  could  explain  it,  or 
had  ever  heard  of  it.'  Subsequently  he  added  :  '  I  had 
indeed  been  startled  by  the  Iravi  Corttan,  which  does 
not  look  at  all  like  the  appellation  of  a  Syrian  Christian ; 
still  I  thought  myself  justified  in  calling  Manigramam  a 

•  Ind.  Ant.,  Ill,  1S74. 

t  See  article  on  the  Jews  of  Cochin.  +  Loc.  cit. 



Christian  principality — whatever  their  Christianity  may 
have  consisted  in — on  the  ground  that,  from  Menezes' 
time,  these  grants  had  been  regarded  as  given  to  the 
Syrian  colonists.'  Mr.  Kookel  Keloo  Nair  considered 
Iravikkorran  a  mere  title,  in  which  no  shadow  of  a 
Syrian  name  is  to  be  traced." 

Nestorius,  a  native  of  Germanicia,  was  educated  at 
Antioch,  where,  as  Presbyter,  he  became  celebrated,  while 
yet  very  young,  for  his  asceticism,  orthodoxy,  and 
eloquence.  On  the  death  of  Sisinnius,  Patriarch  of 
Constantinople,  this  distinguished  preacher  of  Antioch 
was  appointed  to  the  vacant  See  by  the  Emperor 
Theodosius  II,  and  was  consecrated  as  Patriarch  in 
428  A.D.  The  doctrine  of  a  God-man  respecting  Christ, 
and  the  mode  of  union  of  the  human  and  the  divine 
nature  in  Him  left  undefined  by  the  early  teachers,  who 
contented  themselves  with  speaking  of  Him  and  regard- 
ing Him  as  "  born  and  unborn,  God  in  flesh,  life  in  death, 
born  of  Mary,  and  born  of  God,"  had,  long  before  the 
time  of  Nestorius,  begun  to  tax  the  genius  of  churchmen, 
and  the  controversies  in  respect  of  this  double  nature  of 
Christ  had  led  to  the  growth  and  spread  of  important 
heretical  doctrines.  Two  of  the  great  heresies  of  the 
church  before  that  of  Nestorius  are  associated  with  the 
names  of  Arius  and  Apollinaris.  Arius  "  admitted  both 
the  divine  and  the  human  nature  of  Christ,  but,  by 
making  Him  subordinate  to  God,  denied  His  divinity 
in  the  highest  sense."  Apollinaris,  undermining  the 
doctrine  of  the  example  and  atonement  of  Christ,  argued 
that  "  in  Jesus  the  Logos  supplied  the  place  of  the 
reasonable  soul."  As  early  as  325  A.D.  the  first 
CEcumenical  Council  of  Nice  had  defined  against  the 
Arians,  and  decreed  that  "the  Son  was  not  only  of  like 
essence,  but  of  the  same  essence  with  the  Father,  and 


the  human  nature,  maimed  and  misinterpreted  by  the 
Apollinarians,  had  been  restored  to  the  person  of 
Christ  at  the  Council  of  Constantinople  in  381." 
Nestorius,  finding  the  Arians  and  Apollinarians,  con- 
demned strongly  though  they  were,  still  strong  in  numbers 
and  influence  at  Constantinople,  expressed  in  his  first 
sermon  as  Patriarch  his  determination  to  put  down  these 
and  other  heretical  sects,  and  exhorted  the  Emperor 
to  help  him  in  this  difficult  task.  But,  while  vigorously 
engaged  in  the  effectual  extinction  of  all  heresies,  he 
incurred  the  displeasure  of  the  orthodox  party  by  boldly 
declaring,  though  in  the  most  sincerely  orthodox  form, 
against  the  use  of  the  term  Theotokos,  that  is,  Mother 
of  God,  which,  as  applied  to  the  Virgin  Mary,  had  then 
grown  into  popular  favour,  especially  amongst  the  clergy 
at  Constantinople  and  Rome.  While  he  himself  revered 
the  Blessed  Virgin  as  the  Mother  of  Christ,  he  declaimed 
against  the  use  of  the  expression  Mother  of  God  in 
respect  of  her,  as  being  alike  "  unknown  to  the  Apostles, 
and  unauthorised  by  the  Church,"  besides  its  being 
inherently  absurd  to  suppose  that  the  Godhead  can  be 
born  or  suffer.  Moreover,  in  his  endeavour  to  avoid  the 
extreme  positions  taken  up  by  Arians  and  Apollinarians, 
he  denied,  while  speaking  of  the  two  natures  in  Christ, 
that  there  was  any  communication  of  attributes.  But 
he  was  understood  on  this  point  to  have  maintained 
a  mechanical  rather  than  a  supernatural  union  of  the 
two  natures,  and  also  to  have  rent  Christ  asunder,  and 
divided  Him  into  two  persons.  Explaining  his  position, 
Nestorius  said  "  I  distinguish  the  natures,  but  I  unite 
my  adoration."  But  this  explanation  did  not  satisfy 
the  orthodox,  who  understood  him  to  have  "  preached 
a  Christ  less  than  divine."  The  clergy  and  laity  of  Con- 
stantinople, amongst  whom  Nestorius  had  thus  grown 
vi-27  B 


unpopular,  and  was  talked  of  as  a  heretic,  appealed 
to  Cyril,  Bishop  of  the  rival  See  of  Alexandria,  to 
interfere  on  their  behalf.  Cyril,  supported  by  the 
authority  of  the  Pope,  arrived  on  the  scene,  and,  at  the 
Council  of  Ephesus,  hastily  and  informally  called  up, 
condemned  Nestorius  as  a  heretic,  and  excommunicated 
him.  After  Nestor ianism  had  been  rooted  out  of  the 
Roman  Empire  in  the  time  of  Justinian,  it  flourished  "in 
the  East,"  especially  in  Persia  and  the  countries  adjoining 
it,  where  the  churches,  since  their  foundation,  had  been 
following  the  Syrian  ritual,  discipline,  and  doctrine,  and 
where  a  strong  party,  among  them  the  Patriarch  of 
Seleucia  or  Babylon,  and  his  suffragan  the  Metropolitan 
of  Persia,  with  their  large  following,  revered  Nestorius 
as  a  martyr,  and  faithfully  and  formally  accepted  his 
teachings  at  the  Synod  of  Seleucia  in  448  A.D.  His 
doctrines  seem  to  have  spread  as  far  east  as  China,  so 
that,  in  551,  Nestorian  monks  who  had  long  resided  in 
that  country  are  said  to  have  brought  the  eggs  of  the  silk- 
worm to  Constantinople  Cosmos,  surnamed  Indico- 
pleustes,  the  Indian  traveller,  who,  in  522  A.D.,  visited 
Male,  •'  the  country  where  the  pepper  grows,"  has 
referred  to  the  existence  of  a  fully  organised  church  in 
Malabar,  with  the  Bishops  consecrated  in  Persia.  His 
reference,  while  it  traces  the  origin  of  the  Indian  church 
to  the  earlier  centuries,  also  testifies  to  the  fact  that,  at 
the  time  of  his  visit,  the  church  was  Nestorian  in  its 
creed  "  from  the  circumstance  of  its  dependence  upon 
the  Primate  of  Persia,  who  then  unquestionably  held  the 
Nestorian  doctrines." 

The  next  heresy  was  that  of  Eutyches,  a  zealous 
adherent  of  Cyril  in  opposition  to  Nestorius  at  the 
Council  of  Ephesus  in  431  A.D.  But  Eutyches,  in  oppo- 
sing the  doctrine  of  Nestorius,  went  beyond  Cyril  and 


Others,  and  affirmed  that,  after  the  union  of  the  two 
natures,  the  human  and  the  divine,  Christ  had  only  one 
nature  the  divine,  His  humanity  being  absorbed  in  His 
divinity.  After  several  years  of  controversy,  the  question 
was  finally  decided  at  the  Council  of  Chalcedon  in  451, 
when  it  was  declared,  in  opposition  to  the  doctrine  of 
Eutyches,  that  the  two  natures  were  united  in  Christ, 
but  **  without  any  alteration,  absorption,  or  confusion  "; 
or,  in  other  words,  in  the  person  of  Christ  there  were  two 
natures,  the  human  and  the  divine,  each  perfect  in  itself, 
but  there  was  only  one  person.  Eutyches  was  excom- 
municated, and  died  in  exile.  Those  who  would  not 
subscribe  to  the  doctrines  declared  at  Chalcedon  were 
condemned  as  heretics ;  they  then  seceded,  and  after- 
wards gathered  themselves  around  different  centres, 
which  were  Syria,  Mesopotamia,  Asia  Minor,  Cyprus 
and  Palestine,  Armenia,  Egypt,  and  Abyssinia.  The 
Armenians  embraced  the  Eutychian  theory  of  divinity 
being  the  sole  nature  in  Christ,  the  humanity  being 
absorbed,  while  the  Egyptians  and  Abyssinians  held  in 
the  monophysite  doctrine  of  the  divinity  and  humanity 
being  one  compound  nature  in  Christ.  The  West 
Syrians,  or  natives  of  Syria  proper,  to  whom  the  Syrians 
of  this  coast  trace  their  origin,  adopted,  after  having 
renounced  the  doctrines  of  Nestorius,  the  Eutychian 
tenet.  Through  the  influence  of  Severus,  Patriarch  of 
Antioch,  they  gradually  became  Monophysites.  The 
Monophysite  sect  was  for  a  time  suppressed  by  the 
Emperors,  but  in  the  sixth  century  there  took  place  the 
great  Jacobite  revival  of  the  monophysite  doctrine  under 
James  Bardaeus,  better  known  as  Jacobus  Zanzalus,  who 
united  the  various  divisions,  into  which  the  Monophy- 
sites had  separated  themselves,  into  one  church,  which 
at  the  present  day  exists  under  the  name  of  the  Jacobite 


church.  The  head  of  the  Jacobite  church  claims  the 
rank  and  prerogative  of  the  Patriarch  of  Antioch — a  title 
claimed  by  no  less  than  three  church  dignitaries.  Leav- 
ing it  to  subtle  theologians  to  settle  the  disputes,  we 
may  briefly  define  the  position  of  the  Jacobites  in  Mala- 
bar in  respect  of  the  above  controversies.  While  they 
accept  the  qualifying  epithets  pronounced  by  the  decree 
passed  at  the  Council  of  Chalcedon  in  regard  to  the 
union  of  the  two  natures  in  Christ,  they  object  to  the 
use  of  the  word  two  in  referring  to  the  same.  So  far 
they  are  practically  at  one  with  the  Armenians,  for  they 
also  condemn  the  Eutychian  doctrine ;  and  a  Jacobite 
candidate  for  holy  orders  in  the  Syrian  church  has, 
among  other  things,  to  take  an  oath  denouncing 
Eutyches  and  his  teachers. 

We  have  digressed  a  little  in  order  to  show  briefly 
the  position  of  the  Malabar  church  in  its  relation  to 
Eastern  Patriarchs  in  the  early,  mediaeval,  and  modern 
times.  To  resume  the  thread  of  our  story,  from 
about  the  middle  of  the  fourth  century  until  the  arrival 
of  the  Portuguese,  the  Christians  of  Malabar  in  their 
spiritual  distress  generally  applied  for  Bishops  indis- 
criminately to  one  of  the  Eastern  Patriarchs,  who  were 
either  Nestorian  or  Jacobite ;  for,  as  observed  by  Sir 
W.  W.  Hunter,  "for  nearly  a  thousand  years  from  the 
5th  to  the  15th  century,  the  Jacobite  sect  dwelt  in  the 
middle  of  the  Nestorians  in  the  Central  Asia,"  so 
that,  in  response  to  the  requests  from  Malabar,  both 
Nestorian  and  Jacobite  Bishops  appear  to  have  visited 
Malabar  occasionally,  and  the  natives  seem  to  have 
indiscriminately  followed  the  teachings  of  both.  We 
may  here  observe  that  the  simple  folk  of  Malabar, 
imbued  but  with  the  primitive  form  of  Christianity,  were 
neither  conversant  with  nor  ever  troubled  themselves 


about  the  subtle  disputations  and  doctrinal  differences 
that  divided  their  co-religionists  in  Europe  and  Asia 
Minor,  and  were,  therefore,  not  in  a  position  to 
distinguish  between  Nestorian  or  any  other  form  of 
Christianity.  Persia  also  having  subsequently  neglected 
the  outlying  Indian  church,  the  Christians  of  Malabar 
seem  to  have  sent  their  applications  to  the  Patriarch 
of  Babylon,  but,  as  both  prelates  then  followed  the 
Nestorian  creed,  there  was  little  or  no  change  in  the 
rituals  and  dogmas  of  the  church.  Dr.  Day  ^  refers  to 
the  arrival  of  a  Jacobite  Bishop  in  India  in  696  A.D. 
About  the  year  823  A.D.,  two  Nestorian  Bishops,  Mar 
Sapor  and  Mar  Aprot,  appear  to  have  arrived  in  Malabar 
under  the  command  of  the  Nestorian  Patriarch  of 
Babylon.  They  are  said  to  have  interviewed  the  native 
rulers,  travelled  through  the  country,  built  churches,  and 
looked  after  the  religious  affairs  of  the  Syrians. 

We  know  but  little  of  the  history  of  the  Malabar 
Church  for  nearly  six  centuries  prior  to  the  arrival  of 
the  Portuguese  in  India.  We  have,  however,  the  story 
of  the  pilgrimage  of  the  Bishop  of  Sherborne  to  the 
shrine  of  St.  Thomas  in  India  about  883  A.D.,  in 
the  reign  of  Alfred  the  Great ;  and  the  reference 
made  to  the  prevalence  of  Nestorianism  among  the 
St.  Thomas'  Christians  of  Malabar  by  Marco  Polo,  the 
Venetian  traveller. 

The  Christian  community  seem  to  have  been  in 
the  zenith  of  their  glory  and  prosperity  between  the 
9th  and  14th  centuries,  as,  according  to  their  tradition, 
they  were  then  permitted  to  have  a  king  of  their 
own,  withVilliarvattam  near  Udayamperur  (Diamper)  as 
his  capital.     According  to  another  version,  the  king  of 

•  Land  of  the  Perumauls  :  Cochin  past  and  present,  1863. 


VilHarvattam  was  a  convert  to  Christianity.  The 
dynasty  seems  to  have  become  extinct  about  the  14th 
century,  and  it  is  said  that,  on  the  arrival  of  the 
Portuguese,  the  crown  and  sceptre  of  the  last  Christian 
king  were  presented  to  Vasco  da  Gama  in  1502. 
We  have  already  referred  to  the  high  position  occupied 
by  the  Christians  under  the  early  kings,  as  is  seen  from 
the  rare  privileges  granted  to  them,  most  probably  in 
return  for  military  services  rendered  by  them.  The 
king  seems  to  have  enjoyed,  among  other  things,  the 
right  of  punishing  offences  committed  by  the  Christian 
community,  who  practically  followed  his  lead.  A  more 
reasonable  view  of  the  story  of  a  Christian  king  appears 
to  be  that  a  Christian  chief  of  Udayamperur  enjoyed 
a  sort  of  socio-territorial  jurisdiction  over  his  followers, 
which,  in  later  times,  seems  to  have  been  so  magnified  as 
to  invest  him  with  territorial  sovereignty.  We  see,  in 
the  copper-plate  charters  of  the  Jews,  that  their  chief  was 
also  invested  with  some  such  powers. 

Mention  is  made  of  two  Latin  Missions  in  the  14th 
century,  with  Quilon  as  head-quarters,  but  their  labours 
were  ineffectual,  and  their  triumphs  but  short-lived. 
Towards  the  end  of  the  1 5th,  and  throughout  the  whole 
of  the  1 6th  century,  the  Nestorian  Patriarch  of  Meso- 
potamia seems  to  have  exercised  some  authority  over 
the  Malabar  Christians,  as  is  borne  out  by  the  occasional 
references  to  the  arrival  of  Nestorian  Bishops  to  preside 
over  the  churches. 

Until  the  arrival  of  the  Portuguese,  the  Malabar 
church  was  following  unmolested,  in  its  ritual,  practice 
and  communion,  a  creed  of  the  Syro-Chaldsean  church  of 
the  East.  When  they  set  out  on  their  voyages,  conquest 
and  conversion  were  no  less  dear  to  the  heart  of  Portu- 
guese than  enterprise  and  commerce.     Though,  in  the 


first  moments,  the  Syrians,  in  their  neglected  spiritual 
condition,  were  gratified  at  the  advent  of  their  co- 
religionists, the  Romanist  Portuguese,  and  the  Portu- 
guese in  their  turn  expected  the  most  beneficial  results 
from  an  alliance  with  their  Christian  brethren  on  this 
coast,  "the  conformity  of  the  Syrians  to  the  faith  and 
practice  of  the  5th  century  soon  disappointed  the  preju- 
dices of  the  Papist  apologists.  It  was  the  first  care  of 
the  Portuguese  to  intercept  all  correspondence  with  the 
Eastern  Patriarchs,  and  several  of  their  Bishops  expired 
in  the  prisons  of  their  Holy  Office."  The  Franciscan 
and  Dominican  Friars,  and  the  Jesuit  Fathers,  worked 
vigorously  to  win  the  Malabar  Christians  over  to  the 
Roman  Communion.  Towards  the  beginning  of  the  last 
quarter  of  the  i6th  century,  the  Jesuits  built  a  church 
at  Vaippacotta  near  Cranganur,  and  founded  a  college 
for  the  education  of  Christian  youths.  In  1584,  a 
seminary  was  established  for  the  purpose  of  instructing 
the  Syrians  in  theology,  and  teaching  them  the  Latin, 
Portuguese  and  Syriac  languages.  The  dignitaries  who 
presided  over  the  churches,  however,  refused  to  ordain 
the  students  trained  in  the  seminary.  This,  and  other 
causes  of  quarrel  between  the  Jesuits  and  the  native 
clergy,  culminated  in  an  open  rupture,  which  was  pro- 
claimed by  Archdeacon  George  in  a  Synod  at  Angamali. 
When  Alexes  de  Menezes,  Archbishop  of  Goa,  heard 
of  this,  he  himself  undertook  a  visitation  of  the  Syrian 
churches.  The  bold  and  energetic  Menezes  carried  all 
before  him.  Nor  is  his  success  to  be  wondered  at.  He 
was  invested  with  the  spiritual  authority  of  the  Pope, 
and  armed  with  the  terrors  of  the  Inquisition.  He  was 
encouraged  in  his  efforts  by  the  Portuguese  King,  whose 
Governors  on  this  coast  ably  backed  him  up.  Though 
the  ruling  chiefs  at  first  discountenanced  the  exercise  of 


coercive  measures  over  their  subjects,  they  were  soon 
won  over  by  the  stratagems  of  the  subtle  Archbishop. 
Thus  supported,  he  commenced  his  visitation  of  the 
churches,  and  reduced  them  in  A.D.  1599  by  the  decrees 
of  the  Synod  of  Diamper  (Udayamperur),  a  village  about 
ten  miles  to  the  south-east  of  the  town  of  Cochin.  The 
decrees  passed  by  the  Synod  were  reluctantly  subscribed 
to  by  Archdeacon  George  and  a  large  number  of 
Kathanars,  as  the  native  priests  are  called ;  and  this 
practically  converted  the  Malabar  Church  into  a  branch 
of  the  Roman  Church.  Literature  sustained  a  very 
great  loss  at  the  hands  of  Menezes,  "  for  this  blind  and 
enthusiastic  inquisitor  destroyed,  like  a  second  Omar, 
all  the  books  written  in  the  Syrian  or  Chaldsean  language, 
which  could  be  collected,  not  only  at  the  Synod  of 
Diamper,  but  especially  during  his  subsequent  circuit ; 
for,  as  soon  as  he  had  entered  into  a  Syrian  Church,  he 
ordered  all  their  books  and  records  to  be  laid  before  him, 
which,  a  few  indifferent  ones  excepted,  he  committed  to 
the  flames,  so  that  at  present  neither  books  nor  manu- 
scripts are  any  more  to  be  found  amongst  the  St.  Thome 

Immediately  after  the  Synod  of  Diamper,  a  Jesuit 
Father,  Franciscus  Roz,  a  Spaniard  by  birth,  was  ap- 
pointed Bishop  of  Angamali  by  Pope  Clement  VIII. 
The  title  was  soon  after  changed  to  that  of  Archbishop 
of  Cranganur.  By  this  time,  the  rule  of  the  Jesuits  had 
become  so  intolerable  to  the  Syrians  that  they  resolved 
to  have  a  Bishop  from  the  East,  and  applied  to  Babylon, 
Antioch,  Alexandria,  and  other  ecclesiastical  head- 
quarters for  a  Bishop,  as  if  the  ecclesiastical  heads  who 
presided  over  these  places  professed  the  same  creed. 

*  F.  Wrede.      Asiatic   Researches,    VII,    181.      Account  of  the   St.   Thome 


The  request  of  the  Malabar  Christians  for  a  Bishop 
was  readily  responded  to  from  Antioch,  and  Ahattala, 
otherwise  known  as  Mar  Ignatius,  was  forthwith  sent. 
Authorities,  however,  differ  on  this  point,  for,  according 
to  some,  this  Ahattala  was  a  Nestorian,  or  a  protege 
of  the  Patriarch  of  the  Copts.  Whatever  Ahattala's 
religious  creed  might  have  been,  the  Syrians  appear  to 
have  believed  that  he  was  sent  by  the  Jacobite  Patriarch 
of  Antioch.  The  Portuguese,  however,  intercepted  him, 
and  took  him  prisoner.  The  story  goes  that  he  was 
drowned  in  the  Cochin  harbour,  or  condemned  to  the 
flames  of  the  Inquisition  at  Goa  in  1653.  This  cruel 
deed  so  infuriated  the  Syrians  that  thousands  of  them 
met  in  solemn  conclave  at  the  Coonen  Cross  at  Mattan- 
cheri  in  Cochin,  and,  with  one  voice,  renounced  their 
allegiance  to  the  Church  of  Rome.  This  incident  marks 
an  important  epoch  in  the  history  of  the  Malabar  Church, 
for,  with  the  defection  at  the  Coonen  Cross,  the  Malabar 
Christians  split  themselves  up  into  two  distinct  parties, 
the  Romo-Syrians  who  adhered  to  the  Church  of  Rome, 
and  the  Jacobite  Syrians,  who,  severing  their  connection 
with  it,  placed  themselves  under  the  spiritual  supremacy 
of  the  Patriarch  of  Antioch.  The  following  passage 
explains  the  exact  position  of  the  two  parties  that  came 
into  existence  then,  as  also  the  origin  of  the  names  since 
applied  to  them.  "The  Pazheia  Kuttukar,  or  old 
church,  owed  its  foundation  to  Archbishop  Menezes  and 
the  Synod  of  Diamper  in  1599,  and  its  reconciliation, 
after  revolt,  to  the  Carmelite  Bishop,  Joseph  of  St.  Mary, 
in  1656.  It  retains  in  its  services  the  Syrian  language, 
and  in  part  the  Syrian  ritual.  But  it  acknowledges  the 
supremacy  of  the  Pope  and  his  Vicars  Apostolic.  Its 
members  are  now  known  as  Catholics  of  the  Syrian  rite, 
to  distinguish  them  from  the  converts  made  direct  from 


heathenism  to  the  Latin  Church  by  the  Roman  mission- 
aries. The  other  section  of  the  Syrian  Christ  ans  of 
Malabar  is  called  the  Puttan  Kuttukar,  or  new  church. 
It  adheres  to  the  Jacobite  tenets  introduced  by  its  first 
Jacobite  Bishop,  Mar  Gregory,  in  1665."*  ^^^^  have  at 
this  time,  and  ever  after,  to  deal  with  a  third  party,  that 
came  into  existence  after  the  advent  of  the  Portuguese. 
These  are  the  Catholics  of  the  Latin  rite,  and  consist 
almost  exclusively  of  the  large  number  of  converts  gained 
by  the  Portuguese  from  amongst  the  different  castes  of 
the  Hindus.  To  avoid  confusion,  we  shall  follow  the 
fortunes  of  each  sect  separately. 

When  the  Portuguese  first  came  to  India,  the  Indian 
trade  was  chiefly  in  the  hands  of  the  Moors,  who  had  no 
particular  liking  for  the  Hindus  or  Christians,  and  the 
arrival  of  the  Portuguese  was  therefore  welcome  alike 
to  the  Hindus  and  Christians,  who  eagerly  sought  their 
assistance.  The  Portuguese  likewise  accepted  their 
offers  of  friendship  very  gladly,  as  an  alliance,  especially 
with  the  former,  gave  them  splendid  opportunities  for 
advancing  their  religious  mission,  while,  from  a  friendly 
intercourse  with  the  latter,  they  expected  not  only  to 
further  their  religious  interests,  but  also  their  commercial 
prosperity.  In  the  work  of  conversion  they  were  success- 
ful, more  especially  among  the  lower  orders,  the  Illuvans, 
Mukkuvans,  Pulayans,  etc.  The  labours  of  Miguel  Vaz, 
afterwards  Vicar-General  of  Goa,  and  of  P^ather  Vincent, 
in  this  direction  were  continued  with  admirable  success 
by  St.  Francis  Xavier. 

We  have  seen  how  the  strict  and  rigid  discipline  of 
the  Jesuit  Archbishops,  their  pride  and  exclusiveness, 
and  the  capture  and  murder  of  Ahattala  brought  about 

•  Hunter.    Indian  Empire. 


the  outburst  at  the  Coonen  Cross.  Seeing  that  the 
Jesuits  had  failed,  Pope  Alexander  VII  had  recourse  to 
the  Carmelite  Fathers,  who  were  specially  instructed  to 
do  their  best  to  remove  the  schism,  and  to  bring  about 
a  reconciliation  ;  but,  because  the  Portuguese  claimed 
absolute  possession  of  the  Indian  Missions,  and  as  the 
Pope  had  despatched  the  Carmelite  Fathers  without  the 
approval  of  the  King  of  Portugal,  the  first  batch  of  these 
missionaries  could  not  reach  the  destined  field  of  their 
labours.  Another  body  of  Carmelites,  who  had  taken  a 
different  route,  however,  succeeded  in  reaching  Malabar 
in  1656,  and  they  met  Archdeacon  Thomas  who  had 
succeeded  Archdeacon  George.  While  expressing  their 
willingness  to  submit  to  Rome,  the  Syrians  declined  to 
place  themselves  under  Archbishop  Garcia,  S.J.,  who 
had  succeeded  Archbishop  Roz,  S.J.  The  Syrians 
insisted  on  their  being  given  a  non-Jesuit  Bishop,  and, 
in  1659,  Father  Joseph  was  appointed  Vicar  Apostolic 
of  the  "  Sierra  of  Malabar  "  without  the  knowledge  of 
the  King  of  Portugal.  He  came  out  to  India  in  1661, 
and  worked  vigorously  for  two  years  in  reconciling  the 
Syrian  Christians  to  the  Church  of  Rome.  But  he  was 
not  allowed  to  continue  his  work  unmolested,  because, 
when  the  Dutch,  who  were  competing  with  the  Portuguese 
for  supremacy  in  the  Eastern  seas,  took  the  port  of  Cochin 
in  1663,  Bishop  Joseph  was  ordered  to  leave  the  coast 
forthwith.  When  he  left  Cochin,  he  consecrated  Chandy 
Parambil,  otherwise  known  as  Alexander  de  Campo. 

By  their  learning,  and  their  skill  in  adapting  them- 
selves to  circumstances,  the  Carmelite  Fathers  had 
continued  to  secure  the  good-will  of  the  Dutch,  and, 
returning  to  Cochin,  assisted  Alexander  de  Campo  in 
his  work.  Father  Mathew,  one  of  their  number,  was 
allowed  to  build  a  church  at  Chatiath  near  Ernakulam. 


Another  church  was  built  at  Varapuzha  (Verapoly)  on  land 
given  rent-free  by  the  Raja  of  Cochin.  Since  this  time, 
Varapuzha,  now  in  Travancore,  has  continued  to  be  the 
residence  of  a  Vicar  Apostolic. 

The  history  of  a  quarter  of  a  century  subsequent  to 
this  is  uneventful,  except  for  the  little  quarrels  between 
the  Carmelite  Fathers  and  the  native  clergy.  In 
1700,  however,  the  Archbishop  of  Goa  declined  to  con- 
secrate a  Carmelite  Father  nominated  by  the  Pope 
to  the  Vicariate  Apostolic.  But  Father  Anjelus,  the 
Vicar  Apostolic  elect,  got  himself  consecrated  by  one 
Mar  Simon,  who  was  supposed  to  be  in  communion 
with  Rome.  The  Dutch  Government  having  declined 
admission  to  Archbishop  Ribeiro,  S.J.,  the  nominee  of 
the  Portuguese  King  to  their  dominions,  Anjelus  was 
invested  with  jurisdiction  over  Cochin  and  Cranganur. 
Thereupon,  the  Jesuit  Fathers  sought  shelter  in  Travan- 
core, and  in  the  territories  of  the  Zamorin.  With  the 
capture  of  Cranganur  by  the  Dutch,  which  struck  the 
death-blow  to  Portuguese  supremacy  in  the  East,  the 
last  vestige  of  the  church,  seminary  and  college  founded 
by  the  Jesuits  disappeared.  As  the  Dutch  hated  the 
Jesuits  as  bigoted  Papists  and  uncompromising  schis- 
matics, several  of  the  Jesuit  Fathers,  who  were  appointed 
Archbishops  of  Cranganur,  never  set  foot  within  their 
diocese,  and  such  of  them  as  accepted  the  responsibility 
confined  themselves  to  the  territories  of  the  Raja  of 
Travancore.  It  was  only  after  the  establishment  of 
British  supremacy  that  the  Jesuit  Fathers  were  able 
to  re-enter  the  scene  of  their  early  labours.  An  almost 
unbroken  line  of  Carmelite  Fathers  appointed  by  the 
Pope  filled  the  Vicariate  till  1875,  though  the  Arch- 
bishop of  Goa  and  the  Bishop  of  Cochin  now  and  then 
declined    to    consecrate  the   nominee,    and  thus   made 


feeble   attempts   on  behalf  of  their    Faithful    King   to 
recover  their  lost  position. 

Salvador,  S.J.,  Archbishop  of  Cranganur,  died  in 
1777.  Five  years  after  this,  the  King  of  Portugal 
appointed  Joseph  Cariatil  and  Thomas  Paramakal, 
two  native  Christians,  who  had  been  educated  at  the 
Propaganda  College  at  Rome,  as  Archbishop  and  Vicar- 
General,  respectively,  of  the  diocese  of  Cranganur. 

The  native  clergy  at  the  time  were  mostly  ignorant, 
and  the  discipline  amongst  them  was  rather  lax.  The 
Propaganda  attempted  reforms  in  this  direction,  which 
led  to  a  rupture  between  the  Latin  and  the  native 
clergy.  The  Carmelite  Fathers,  like  the  Jesuits,  had 
grown  overbearing  and  haughty,  and  an  attempt  at 
innovation  made  by  the  Pope  through  them  became 
altogether  distasteful  to  the  natives.  Serious  charges 
against  the  Carmelites  were,  therefore,  formally  laid 
before  the  Pope  and  the  Raja  of  Travancore  by  the 
Syrians.  They  also  insisted  that  Thomas  should  be 
consecrated  Bishop.  At  this  time,  the  Dutch  were  all- 
powerful  at  the  courts  of  native  rulers,  and,  though  the 
Carmelite  missionaries  who  had  ingratiated  themselves 
into  the  good  graces  of  the  Dutch  tried  their  best  to 
thwart  the  Syrians  in  their  endeavours,  Thomas  was 
permitted  to  be  consecrated  Bishop,  and  the  Syrians 
were  allowed  the  enjoyment  of  certain  rare  privileges. 
It  is  remarkable  that,  at  this  time  and  even  in  much 
earlier  times,  the  disputes  between  the  foreign  and  the 
native  clergy,  or  between  the  various  factions  following 
the  lead  of  the  native  clergy,  were  often  decided  by  the 
Hindu  kings,  and  the  Christians  accepted  and  abided 
by  the  decisions  of  their  temporal  heads. 

In  1838,  Pope  Gregory  XVI  issued  a  Bull  abolishing 
the  Sees  of  Cranganur  and  Cochin,  and  transferring  the 


jurisdiction  to  the  Vicar  Apostolic  of  Varapuzha.  But 
the  King  of  Portugal  questioned  the  right  of  the  Pope, 
and  this  led  to  serious  disputes.  The  abolition  of  the 
smaller  seminaries  by  Archbishop  Bernardin  of  Vara- 
puzha, and  his  refusal  to  ordain  candidates  for  Holy- 
Orders  trained  in  these  seminaries  by  the  Malpans  or 
teacher-priests,  caused  much  discontent  among  the  Syrian 
Christians,  and,  in  1856,  a  large  section  of  the  Syrians 
applied  to  the  Catholic  Chaldsean  Patriarch  of  Babylon 
for  a  Chaldsean  Bishop.  This  was  readily  responded  to 
by  the  Patriarch,  who,  though  under  the  Pope,  thought 
that  he  had  a  prescriptive  right  to  supremacy  over  the 
Malabar  Christians.  Bishop  Roccos  was  sent  out  to 
Malabar  in  1861,  and  though,  owing  to  the  charm  of 
novelty,  a  large  section  of  the  Christians  at  once  joined 
him,  a  strong  minority  questioned  his  authority,  and 
referred  the  matter  to  the  Pope,  Bishop  Roccos  was 
recalled,  and  the  Patriarch  was  warned  by  the  Pope 
against  further  interference. 

Subsequently,  the  Patriarch,  again  acting  on  the 
notion  that  he  had  independent  jurisdiction  over  the 
Chaldaean  Syrian  church  of  Malabar,  sent  out  Bishop 
Melius  to  Cochin.  The  arrival  of  this  Bishop  in  1874 
created  a  distinct  split  among  the  Christians  of  Trichur, 
one  faction  acknowledging  the  supremacy  of  the  Pope, 
and  the  other  following  the  lead  of  Bishop  Melius.  This 
open  rupture  had  involved  the  two  factions  in  a  costly 
litigation.  The  adherents  of  Bishop  Melius  contend 
that  their  church,  ever  since  its  foundation  in  18 10  or 
1 81 2,  has  followed  the  practice,  ritual,  and  communion 
of  the  Chaldaean  church  of  Babylon,  without  having  ever 
been  in  communion  with  Rome.  The  matter  is  sub 
judice.  They  are  now  known  by  the  name  of  Chaldaean 
Syrians.     The  Pope,  in  the  meanwhile,  excommunicated 


Bishop  Melius,  but  he  continued  to  exercise  spiritual 
authority  over  his  adherents  independently  of  Rome. 
In  1887  the  Patriarch  having  made  peace  with  the 
Pope,  Bishop  Melius  left  India,  and  submitted  to  Rome 
in  1889.  On  the  departure  of  Bishop  Melius,  the 
Chaldsean  Syrians  chose  Anthony  Kathanar,  otherwise 
known  as  Mar  Abdeso,  as  their  Archbishop.  He  is 
said  to  have  been  a  Rome  Syrian  priest  under  the  Arch- 
bishop of  Varapuzha.  It  is  also  said  that  he  visited 
Syria  and  Palestine,  and  received  ordination  from  the 
anti- Roman  Patriarch  of  Babylon.  Before  his  death  in 
1900,  he  ordained  Mar  Augustine,  who,  under  the  title 
of  Chorepiscopus,  had  assisted  him  in  the  government 
of  the  Chaldaean  church,  and  he  now  presides  over  the 
Chaldsean  Syrian  churches  in  the  State. 

In  1868,  Bishop  Marcellinus  was  appointed  Coadjutor 
to  the  Vicar  Apostolic  of  Varapuzha,  and  entrusted  with 
the  spiritual  concerns  of  the  Romo-Syrians.  On  his 
death  in  1892,  the  Romo-Syrians  were  placed  under  the 
care  of  two  European  Vicars  Apostolic.  We  have  seen 
how  the  Jesuits  had  made  themselves  odious  to  the  native 
Christians,  and  how  reluctantly  the  latter  had  submitted 
to  their  rigid  discipline.  We  have  seen,  too,  how  the 
Carmelites  who  replaced  them,  in  spite  of  their  worldly 
wisdom  and  conciliatory  policy,  had  their  own  occasional 
quarrels  and  disputes  with  the  native  clergy  and  their 
congregations.  From  the  time  of  the  revolt  at  the 
Coonen  Cross,  and  ever  afterwards,  the  Christians  had 
longed  for  Bishops  of  their  own  nationality,  and  made 
repeated  requests  for  the  same.  For  some  reason  or 
other,  compliance  with  these  requisitions  was  deferred 
for  years.  Experience  showed  that  the  direct  rule  of 
foreign  Bishops  had  failed  to  secure  the  unanimous 
sympathy  and  hearty  co-operation  of  the  people.  The 


Pope  was,  however,  convinced  of  the  spiritual  adherence 
of  the  native  clergy  and  congregation  to  Rome.  In 
these  circumstances,  it  was  thought  advisable  to  give  the 
native  clergy  a  fair  trial  in  the  matter  of  local  supremacy. 
Bishops  Medlycott  and  Lavigne,  S.J.,  who  were  the 
Vicars  Apostolic  of  Trichur  and  Kottayam,  were  there- 
fore withdrawn,  and,  in  1896,  three  native  Syrian  priests. 
Father  John  Menacheri,  Father  Aloysius  Pareparambil, 
and  Father  Mathew  Mackil,  were  consecrated  by  the 
Papal  Delegate  as  the  Vicars  Apostolic  of  Trichur, 
Ernakulam,  and  Chenganacheri. 

The  monopoly  of  the  Indian  missions  claimed  by  the 
Portuguese,  and  the  frequent  disputes  which  disturbed 
the  peace  of  the  Malabar  church,  were  ended  in  1886  by 
the  Concordat  entered  into  between  Pope  Leo  XIII  and 
the  King  of  Portugal.  The  Archbishop  of  Goa  was  by 
this  recognised  as  the  Patriarch  of  the  East  Indies  with 
the  Bishop  of  Cochin  as  a  suffragan,  whose  diocese  in  the 
Cochin  State  is  confined  to  the  seaboard  taluk  of  Cochin. 
The  rest  of  the  Latin  Catholics  of  this  State,  except  a 
small  section  in  the  Chittur  taluk  under  the  Bishop  of 
Coimbatore,  are  under  the  Archbishop  of  Varapuzha. 

Since  the  revolt  of  the  Syrians  at  the  Coonen  Cross 
in  1653,  the  Jacobite  Syrians  have  been  governed  by 
native  Bishops  consecrated  by  Bishops  sent  by  the 
Patriarch  of  Antioch,  or  at  least  always  received  and 
recognised  as  such.  In  exigent  circumstances,  the  native 
Bishops  themselves,  before  their  death,  consecrated  their 
successors  by  the  imposition  of  hands.  Immediately 
after  the  defection,  they  chose  Archdeacon  Thomas  as 
their  spiritual  leader.  He  was  thus  the  first  Metran 
or  native  Bishop,  having  been  formally  ordained  after 
twelve  years  of  independent  rule  by  Mar  Gregory  from 
Antioch,  with  whose  name  the  revival  of  Jacobitism  in 


Malabar  is  associated.     The  Metran  assumed  the  title  of 
Mar  Thomas  I.     He  belonged  to  the  family  that  traced 
its  descent  from  the  Pakalomattom  family,  held  in  high 
respect  and  great  veneration  as  one  of  the  Brahman 
families,   the  members   of  which  are  supposed  to  have 
been  converted  and  ordained  as  priests  by  the  apostle 
himself     Members   of    the   same    family   continued   to 
hold  the  Metranship  till  about  the  year   1815,  when  the 
family  is  supposed  to  have  become  extinct.     This  here- 
ditary succession  is  supposed  by  some  to  be  a  relic  of 
the  Nestorian  practice.     It  may,  however,  be  explained 
in  another  way.     The  earliest  converts  were  high-caste 
Hindus,    amongst    whom   an   Anandravan    (brother   or 
nephew)  succeeded  to  the  family  estates  and  titles  in  pur- 
suance of  the  joint  family  system  as  current  in  Malabar. 
The  succession  of  a  brother  or  a  nephew  might,  therefore, 
be  quite  as  much  a  relic  of  the   Hindu  custom.     The 
Metrans  possessed    properties.     They   were,    therefore, 
interested  in  securing  the  succession  of  their  Anandravans, 
so  that  their  properties  might  not  pass  to  a  different 
family.     Mar  Thomas  I  was  succeeded  by  his  brother 
Mar  Thomas  H,  on  whose  death  his  nephew  became 
Metran  under  the  title  of  Mar  Thomas  HI.     He  held 
office  only  for  ten  days.     Mar  Thomas  IV,  who  suc- 
ceeded him,  presided  over  the  church  till  1728.     Thomas 
III  and  IV  are  said  to  have  been  consecrated  by  Bishop 
John,   a  scholar  of  great  repute,  who,  with  one  Bishop 
Basil,  came  from  Antioch  in  1685.     During  the  regime 
of  Mar  Thomas  IV,  and  of  his  nephew  Thomas  V,  Mar 
Gabriel,  a  Nestorian  Bishop,  appeared  on  the  scene  in 
1708.     He  seems   to  have   been   a   man   without  any 
definite  creed,  as  he  proclaimed  himself  a  Nestorian,  a 
Jacobite,  or  a   Romanist,  according  as  one  or  the  other 
best  suited  his  interests.     He  had  his  own  friends  and 


admirers  among  the  Syrians,  with  whose  support  he 
ruled  over  a  few  churches  in  the  north  till  1731.  The 
consecration  of  Mar  Thomas  V  by  Mar  Thomas  IV 
was  felt  to  be  invalid,  and,  to  remedy  the  defect,  the 
assistance  of  the  Dutch  was  sought  ;  but,  being  dis- 
appointed, the  Christians  had  recourse  to  a  Jewish 
merchant  named  Ezekiel,  who  undertook  to  convey 
their  message  to  the  Patriarch  of  Antioch.  He  brought 
from  Bassorah  one  Mar  Ivanius,  who  was  a  man  of 
fiery  temper.  He  interfered  with  the  images  in  the 
churches.  This  led  to  quarrels  with  the  Metran,  and 
he  had  forthwith  to  quit  the  State.  Through  the 
Dutch  authorities  at  Cochin,  a  fresh  requisition  was 
sent  to  the  Patriarch  of  Antioch,  who  sent  out 
three  Bishops  named  Basil,  John,  and  Gregory.  Their 
arrival  caused  fresh  troubles,  owing  to  the  difficulty 
of  paying  the  large  sum  claimed  by  them  as  passage 
money.  In  1761,  Mar  Thomas  V,  supposed  to  have 
died  in  1765,  consecrated  his  nephew  Mar  Thomas 
VI.  About  this  time,  Gregory  consecrated  one  Kurilos, 
the  leader  of  a  faction  that  resisted  the  rule  of  Thomas 
VI.  The  disputes  and  quarrels  which  followed  were 
ended  with  the  flight  of  Kurilos,  who  founded  the  See 
of  Anjoor  in  the  north  of  Cochin  and  became  the  first 
Bishop  of  Tholiyur.  Through  the  kind  intercession  of 
the  Maharaja  of  Travancore,  Thomas  VI  underwent 
formal  consecration  at  the  hands  of  the  Bishops  from 
Antioch,  and  took  the  title  of  Dionysius  I,  known  also 
as  Dionysius  the  Great.  In  1775,  the  great  Carmelite 
father  Paoli  visited  Mar  Dionysius,  and  tried  to  persuade 
him  to  submit  to  Rome.  It  is  said  that  he  agreed  to 
the  proposal,  on  condition  of  his  being  recognised  as 
Metropolitan  of  all  the  Syrians  in  Malabar,  but  nothing 
came  of  it.     A  few  years  after  this,  the  struggle  for 


supremacy  between  the  Dutch  and  the  English  had 
ended  in  the  triumph  of  the  latter,  who  evinced  a  good 
deal  of  interest  in  the  Syrian  Christians,  and,  in  1805, 
the  Madras  Government  deputed  Dr.  Kerr  to  study  the 
history  of  the  Malabar  Church.  In  1809,  Dr.  Buchanan 
visited  Mar  Dionysius,  and  broached  the  question  of 
a  union  of  the  Syrian  Church  with  the  Church  of 
England.  The  proposal,  however,  did  not  find  favour 
with  the  Metropolitan,  or  his  congregation.  Mar  Diony- 
sius died  in  1808.  Before  his  death,  he  had  consecrated 
Thomas  Kathanar  as  Thomas  VIII.  He  died  in  18 16. 
His  successor,  Thomas  IX,  was  weak  and  old,  and  he 
was  displaced  by  Ittoop  Ramban,  known  as  Pulikot 
Dionysius  or  Dionysius  II.  He  enjoyed  the  confidence 
and  good-will  of  Colonel  Munro,  the  British  Resident, 
through  whose  good  offices  a  seminary  had  been  built 
at  Kottayam  in  18 13  for  the  education  of  Syrian  youths. 
He  died  in  18 18.  Philixenos,  who  had  succeeded 
Kurilos  as  Bishop  of  Tholiyur,  now  consecrated  Punna- 
thara  Dionysius,  or  Dionysius  III. 

We  have  now  to  refer  to  an  important  incident  in  the 
history  of  the  Jacobite  Syrians.  Through  the  influence 
of  the  British  Resident,  and  in  the  hope  of  effecting  the 
union  proposed  by  Dr.  Buchanan,  the  Church  Mission 
Society  commenced  their  labours  in  1816.  The  English 
Missionaries  began  their  work  under  favourable  circum- 
stances, and  the  most  cordial  relations  existed  between 
the  Syrians  and  the  missionaries  for  some  years,  so  much 
so  that  the  latter  frequently  visited  the  Syrian  churches, 
and  even  preached  sermons.  On  the  death  of  Dionysius 
III  in  1825,  or  as  some  say  1827,  Cheppat  Dionysius 
consecrated  by  Mar  Philixenos  again,  succeeded  as 
Metropolitan  under  the  title  of  Dionysius  IV.  During 
his  regime,  there  grew  up  among  the  Syrians  a  party, 


who  suspected  that  the  missionaries  were  using  their 
influence  with  the  Metropolitan,  and  secretly  endeavour- 
ing to  bring  the  Syrians  under  the  Protestant  Church. 
The  conservative  party  of  Syrians  stoutly  opposed  the 
movement.  They  petitioned  the  Patriarch  of  Antioch, 
who  at  once  sent  out  a  Bishop  named  Athanasius.  On 
arrival  in  1825,  a  large  number  of  Syrians  flocked  to 
him.  He  even  went  to  the  length  of  threatening  Mar 
Dionysius  with  excommunication.  But  the  Protestant 
missionaries  and  the  British  Resident  came  to  the 
rescue  of  the  Metropolitan,  and  exercised  their  influence 
with  the  ruler  of  Travancore,  who  forthwith  deported 
Athanasius.  The  deportation  of  Athanasius  streng- 
thened the  position  of  the  missionaries.  The  British 
Resident,  and  through  his  influence  the  native  ruler, 
often  rendered  them  the  most  unqualified  support.  The 
missionaries  who  superintended  the  education  of  the 
Syrian  students  in  the  seminary,  having  begun  to  teach 
them  doctrines  contrary  to  those  of  the  Jacobite  Church, 
the  cordiality  and  friendship  that  had  existed  between 
the  missionaries  and  the  Metropolitan  gradually  gave 
place  to  distrust  and  suspicion.  The  party  that  clung 
to  the  time-honoured  traditions  and  practices  of  their 
church  soon  fanned  the  flame  of  discord,  and  snapped 
asunder  the  ties  of  friendship  that  had  bound  the 
Metropolitan  to  the  missionaries.  Bishop  Wilson  of 
Calcutta  proceeded  to  Travancore  to  see  if  a  reconcilia- 
tion could  be  effected.  But  his  attempts  in  this  direction 
proved  fruitless,  because  the  Syrians  could  not  accept 
his  proposal  to  adopt  important  changes  affecting  their 
spiritual  and  temporal  concerns,  such  as  doing  away 
with  prayers  for  the  dead,  the  revision  of  their  liturgy, 
the  management  of  church  funds,  etc.,  and  the  Syrians 
finally  parted  company  with  the  missionaries  in   1838. 




Soon  after  this,  disputes  arose  in  regard  to  the  funds  and 
endowments  of  the  seminary,  but  they  were  soon  settled 
by  arbitration  in  1840,  and  the  properties  were  divided 
between  the  MetropoHtan  and  the  missionaries.  The 
missionaries  had  friends  among  the  Jacobites,  some  of 
whom  became  members  of  the  Church  of  England. 

The  Syrians  were  rather  distressed,  because  they 
thought  that  the  consecration  of  their  Metropolitan  by 
Mar  Philixenos  was  insufficient.  They  therefore  memo- 
rialised the  Patriarch  of  Antioch.  There  grew  up  also  a 
party  hostile  to  the  Metropolitan,  and  they  sent  to 
Antioch  a  Syrian  Christian  named  Mathew.  His  arri- 
val at  Antioch  was  most  opportune.  The  Patriarch  was 
looking  out  for  a  proper  man.  Mathew  was  therefore 
welcomed,  and  treated  very  kindly.  He  was  conse- 
crated as  Metropolitan  by  the  Patriarch  himself  in  1842, 
and  sent  out  with  the  necessary  credentials.  He  arrived 
in  1843  as  Metropolitan  of  Malankara  under  the  title 
of  Mathew  Anastatius,  and  advanced  his  claims  to  the 
headship  of  the  Church,  but  Mar  Dionysius  resisted 
him,  and  sent  an  appeal  to  the  Patriarch  of  Antioch,  in 
which  he  denounced  Mathew  as  one  who  had  enlisted 
his  sympathies  with  the  Protestant  missionaries.  Upon 
this,  the  Patriarch  sent  out  one  Cyril  with  power  to 
expel  Mathew,  and,  with  the  connivance  of  Mar 
Dionysius,  Cyril  cut  the  gordian  knot  by  appointing 
himself  as  Metropolitan  of  Malabar.  Disputes  arising, 
a  committee  was  appointed  to  examine  the  claims  of 
Athanasius  and  Cyril.  The  credentials  of  Cyril  were 
proved  to  be  forged,  whereupon  Athanasius  was  duly 
installed  in  his  office  in  1862,  and  Cyril  fled  the  country. 
Cyril  having  failed,  the  Patriarch  sent  another  Bishop 
named  Stephanos,  who  contributed  his  mite  towards 
widening  the  breach,  and,  on  the  British  Resident  having 


ordered  the  Bishop  to  quit  the  country,  an  appeal  was 
preferred  to  the  Court  of  Directors,  who  insisted  on  a 
poHcy  of  non-interference.     This   bestirred   Mar   Cyril, 
who   reappeared   on   the   scene,  and  fanned   the   flame 
of  discord.     Being   ordered   to   leave    Mar   Athanasius 
unmolested,    he   and   his    friends    sent   one   Joseph   to 
Antioch,  who   returned  with  fresh  credentials  in   1866, 
assumed  the  title  of  Dionysius  V,  claimed  the  office  of 
Metropolitan,  and  applied  to  the  Travancore    Govern- 
ment for  assistance.     Adopting  a  policy  of  non-inter- 
ference, the  darbar  referred  him  to  the  Law  Courts,  in 
case  he  could  not  come  to  terms  with  Mar  Athanasius. 
The   Patriarch  of  Antioch  himself  visited  Cochin  and 
Travancore  in  1874,  and  presided  over  a  Synod  which 
met  at  Mulanthurutha  in  the  Cochin  State.     Resolutions 
affirming  the  supremacy  of  Antioch,   recognising   Mar 
Dionysius  as  the  accredited   Metropolitan  of  Malabar, 
and  condemning  Mathew  Athanasius  as  a  schismatic, 
were  passed  by  the  members  of  the  assembly,  and  the 
Patriarch  returned  to  Mardin  in   1876.     This,  however, 
did   not  mend  matters,   and  the   two  parties  launched 
themselves    into  a  protracted   law  suit  in    1879,   which 
ended   in   favour    of    Mar    Dionysius    in     1S89.     Mar 
Athanasius,  who  had  taken  up  an  independent  position, 
died  in  1875,  and  his  cousin,  whom  he  had  consecrated, 
succeeded  as  Metropolitan  under  the  title  of  Mar  Thomas 
Anastatius.     He  died  in   1893,  ^^^  Titus  Mar  Thoma, 
consecrated  likewise  by   his  predecessor,  presides  over 
the  Reformed  Party  of  Jacobite  Syrians,  who  prefer  to 
•  be  called  St.  Thomas'  Syrians.     We  have  thus  traced  the 
history  of  the  Jacobite  Syrians  from  1653,  and  shown 
how   they  separated  themselves  into  two  parties,   now 
represented  by  the  Jacobite  Syrians  under  Mar  Diony- 
sius, owing  allegiance  to  the  Patriarch  of  Antioch,  and 


the  Reformed  Syrians  or  St.  Thomas'  Syrians  owning 
Titus  Mar  Thoma  as  their  supreme  spiritual  head. 
Thus,  while  the  Jacobite  Syrians  have  accepted  and 
acknowledged  the  ecclesiastical  supremacy  of  the  Patri- 
arch of  Antioch,  the  St.  Thomas'  Syrians,  maintaining 
that  the  Jacobite  creed  was  introduced  into  Malabar 
only  in  the  seventeenth  century  after  a  section  of  the 
church  had  shaken  off  the  Roman  supremacy,  uphold 
the  ecclesiastical  autonomy  of  the  church,  whereby  the 
supreme  control  of  the  spiritual  and  temporal  affairs 
of  the  church  is  declared  to  be  in  the  hands  of  the 
Metropolitan  of  Malabar.  The  St.  Thomas'  Syri- 
ans hold  that  the  consecration  of  a  Bishop  by,  or  with 
the  sanction  of  the  Patriarch  of  Babylon,  Alexandria  or 
Antioch,  gives  no  more  validity  or  sanctity  to  that 
office  than  consecration  by  the  Metropolitan  of  Mala- 
bar, the  supreme  head  of  the  church  in  Malabar, 
inasmuch  as  this  church  is  as  ancient  and  apostolic 
as  any  other,  being  founded  by  the  apostle  St.  Thomas  ; 
while  the  Jacobites  hold  that  the  consecration  of  a 
Bishop  is  not  valid,  unless  it  be  done  with  the  sanc- 
tion of  their  Patriarch.  The  St,  Thomas'  Syrians  have, 
however,  no  objection  to  receiving  consecration  from 
the  head  of  any  other  episcopal  apostolic  church,  but 
they  consider  that  such  consecrations  do  not  in  any  way 
subject  their  church  to  the  supremacy  of  that  prelate 
or  church. 

Both  the  Latins  and  the  Romo- Syrians  use  the 
liturgy  of  the  Church  of  Rome,  the  former  using  the 
Latin,  and  the  latter  the  Syriac  language.  It  is  believed 
by  some  that  the  Christians  of  St.  Thomas  formerly  used 
the  liturgy  of  St.  Adaeus,  East  Syrian,  Edessa,  but  that 
it  was  almost  completely  assimilated  to  the  Roman 
liturgy  by  Portuguese  Jesuits  at  the  Synod  of  Diamper 


in  1599.  The  Chaldsean  Syrians  also  use  the  Roman 
liturgy,  with  the  following  points  of  difference  in  practice, 
communicated  to  me  by  their  present  ecclesiastical 
head  : — (i)  They  perform  marriage  ceremonies  on 
Sundays,  instead  of  week  days  as  the  Romo-Syrians  do. 
(2)  While  reading  the  Gospel,  their  priests  turn  to  the 
congregation,  whereas  the  Romo-Syrian  priests  turn 
to  the  altar.  (3)  Their  priests  bless  the  congregation 
in  the  middle  of  the  mass,  a  practice  not  in  vogue 
among  the  Romo-Syrlans.  (4)  They  use  two  kinds  of 
consecrated  oil  in  baptism,  which  does  away  with  the 
necessity  of  confirmation.  The  Romo-Syrians,  on  the 
other  hand,  use  only  one  kind  of  oil,  and  hence  they 
have  to  be  subsequently  confirmed  by  one  of  their 

The  liturgy  used  by  the  Jacobite  Syrians  and  the 
St.  Thomas'  Syrians  is  the  same,  viz.,  that  of  St.  James. 
The  St.  Thomas'  Syrians  have,  however,  made  some 
changes  by  deleting  certain  passages  from  it.  [A 
recent  writer  observes  that  "  a  service  which  I  attended 
at  the  quaint  old  Syrian  church  at  Kottayam,  which 
glories  in  the  possession  of  one  of  the  three  ancient 
stone  crosses  in  India,  closely  resembled,  as  far  as  my 
memory  serves  me,  one  which  I  attended  many  years 
ago  at  Antioch,  except  that  the  non-sacramental  portions 
of  the  mass  were  read  in  Malayalam  instead  of  in  Arabic, 
the  sacramental  words  alone  being  in  both  cases  spoken 
in  the  ancient  Syriac  tongue.]  In  regard  to  doctrine  and 
practice,  the  following  points  may  be  noted  : — (i)  While 
the  Jacobite  Syrians  look  upon  the  Holy  Bible  as  the 
main  authority  in  matters  of  doctrine,  practice,  and  ritual, 
they  do  not  allow  the  Bible  to  be  interpreted  except  with 
the  help  of  the  traditions  of  the  church,  the  writings  of 
the  early  Fathers,  and  the  decrees  of  the  Holy  Synods 


of  the  undivided  Christian  period  ;  but  the  St.  Thomas' 
Syrians  believe  that  the  Holy  Bible  is  unique  and 
supreme  in  such  matters.  (2)  While  the  Jacobites  have 
faith  in  the  efficacy  and  necessity  of  prayers,  charities, 
etc.,  for  the  benefit  of  departed  souls,  of  the  invocation 
of  the  Virgin  Mary  and  the  Saints  in  divine  worship,  of 
pilgrimages,  and  of  confessing  sins  to,  and  obtaining 
absolution  from  priests,  the  St.  Thomas'  Syrians  regard 
these  and  similar  practices  as  unscriptural,  tending  not 
to  the  edification  of  believers,  but  to  the  drawing  away 
of  the  minds  of  believers  from  the  vital  and  real  spiritual 
truths  of  the  Christian  Revelation.  (3)  While  the 
Jacobites  administer  the  Lord's  Supper  to  the  laity  and 
the  non-celebrating  clergy  in  the  form  of  consecrated 
bread  dipped  in  consecrated  wine,  and  regard  it  a  sin  to 
administer  the  elements  separately  after  having  united 
them  in  token  of  Christ's  resurrection,  the  St.  Thomas' 
Syrians  admit  the  laity  to  both  the  elements  after  the  act 
of  uniting  them.  (4)  While  the  Jacobite  Syrians  allow 
marriage  ceremonies  on  Sundays,  on  the  plea  that,  being 
of  the  nature  of  a  sacrament,  they  ought  to  be  celebrated 
on  Sundays,  and  that  Christ  himself  had  taken  part  in  a 
marriage  festival  on  the  Sabbath  day,  the  St.  Thomas' 
Syrians  prohibit  such  celebrations  on  Sundays  as  unscrip- 
tural, the  Sabbath  being  set  apart  for  rest  and  religious 
exercises.  (5)  While  the  Jacobites  believe  that  the 
mass  is  as  much  a  memorial  of  Christ's  oblation  on 
the  cross  as  it  is  an  unbloody  sacrifice  offered  for  the 
remission  of  the  sins  of  the  living  and  of  the  faithful  dead, 
the  St.  Thomas'  Syrians  observe  it  as  a  commemoration 
of  Christ's  sacrifice  on  the  cross.  (6)  The  Jacobites 
venerate  the  cross  and  the  relics  of  Saints,  while 
the  St.  Thomas'  Syrians  regard  the  practice  as  idolatry. 
(7)  The  Jacobites  perform  mass  for  the  dead,  while  the 


St.  Thomas'  Syrians  regard  it  as  unscriptural.  (8)  With 
the  Jacobites,  remarriage,  marriage  of  widows,  and  mar- 
riage after  admission  to  full  priesthood,  reduce  a  priest 
to  the  status  of  a  layman,  and  one  united  in  any  such 
marriage  is  not  permitted  to  perform  priestly  functions, 
whereas  priests  of  the  St.  Thomas'  Syrian  party  are 
allowed  to  contract  such  marriages  without  forfeiture  of 
their  priestly  rights.  (9)  The  Jacobite  Syrians  believe  in 
the  efficacy  of  infant  baptism,  and  acknowledge  baptismal 
regeneration,  while  the  St.  Thomas'  Syrians,  who  also 
baptise  infants,  deny  the  doctrine  of  regeneration  in  bap- 
tism, and  regard  the  ceremony  as  a  mere  external  sign 
of  admission  to  church  communion.  (10)  The  Jacobites 
observe  special  fasts,  and  abstain  from  certain  articles  of 
food  during  such  fasts,  while  the  St.  Thomas'  Syrians 
regard  the  practice  as  superstitious. 

The  Jacobite  Syrian  priests  are  not  paid  any  fixed 
salary,  but  are  supported  by  voluntary  contributions  in 
the  shape  of  fees  for  baptism,  marriages,  funerals,  etc. 
The  Romo- Syrian  and  Latin  priests  are  paid  fixed  sala- 
ries, besides  the  above  perquisites.  The  Syrian  priests 
are  called  Kathanars,  while  the  Latin  priests  go  by  the 
name  of  Padres.  For  the  Jacobite  Syrians,  the  morone 
or  holy  oil  required  for  baptism,  consecration  of  churches, 
ordination  of  priests,  etc.,  has  to  be  obtained  from 
Antioch.  The  churches  under  Rome  get  it  from 
Rome.  Unlike  the  Catholic  clergy,  the  Jacobite  clergy, 
except  their  Metropolitan  and  the  Rambans,  are  allowed 
to  marry. 

The  generality  of  Syrians  of  the  present  day  trace 
their  descent  from  the  higher  orders  of  the  H  indu  society, 
and  the  observance  by  many  of  them  of  certain  customs 
prevalent  more  or  less  among  high-caste  Hindus  bears 
out  this  fact.     It  is  no  doubt  very  curious  that,  in  spite 


of  their  having  been  Christians  for  centuries  together, 
they  still  retain  the  traditions  of  their  Hindu  forefathers. 
It  may  sound  very  strange,  but  it  is  none  the  less  true, 
that  caste  prejudices  which  influence  their  Hindu  brethren 
in  all  social  and  domestic  relations  obtain  to  some  extent 
among  some  sections  of  the  Syrian  Christians,  but,  with 
the  spread  of  a  better  knowledge  of  the  teachings  of 
Christ,  the  progress  of  English  education,  and  contact 
with  European  Christians,  caste  observances  are  gradu- 
ally dying  out.  The  following  relics  of  old  customs  may, 
however,  be  noted  : — 

(i)  Some  Christians  make  offerings  to  Hindu 
temples  with  as  much  reverence  as  they  do  in  their 
own  churches. 

Some  non-Brahman  Hindus  likewise  make  offer- 
ings to  Christian  churches. 

(2)  Some  sections  of  Syrians  have  faith  in  horo- 
scopes, and  get  them  cast  for  new-born  babies,  just  as 
Hindus  do. 

(3)  On  the  wedding  day,  the  bridegroom  ties  round 
the  neck  of  the  bride  a  tali  (small  ornament  made  of 
gold).  This  custom  is  prevalent  among  all  classes  of 
Native  Christians.  On  the  death  of  their  husbands, 
some  even  remove  the  tali  to  indicate  widowhood,  as  is 
the  custom  among  the  Brahmans. 

(4)  When  a  person  dies,  his  or  her  children,  if 
any,  and  near  relatives,  observe  pula  (death  pollution) 
for  a  period  ranging  from  ten  to  fifteen  days.  The 
observance  imposes  abstinence  from  animal  food.  The 
pula  ends  with  a  religious  ceremony  in  the  church,  with 
feasting  friends  and  relatives  in  the  house,  and  feeding 
the  poor,  according  to  one's  means.  Sradha,  or  anniver- 
sary ceremony  for  the  soul  of  the  dead,  is  performed 
with  services  in  the  church  and  feasts  in  the  house. 

vi-30  B 


(5)  In  rural  parts  especially,  the  Onam  festival 
of  the  Malayali  Hindus  is  celebrated  with  great  dclat, 
with  feasting,  making  presents  of  cloths  to  children  and 
relatives,  out-door  and  in-door  games,  etc. 

(6)  Vishu,  or  new-year's  day,  is  likewise  a  gala 
day,  when  presents  of  small  coins  are  made  to  children, 
relatives,  and  the  poor. 

(7)  The  ceremony  of  first  feeding  a  child  with  rice 
(annaprasanam  or  ch5runu  of  the  Hindus)  is  celebrated 
generally  in  the  sixth  month  after  birth.  Parents  often 
make  vows  to  have  the  ceremony  done  in  a  particular 
church,  as  Hindu  parents  take  their  children  to  particular 
temples  in  fulfilment  of  special  vows. 

(8)  The  Syrians  do  not  admit  within  their  premises 
low-castes,  e.g.,  Pulayans,  Paraiyans,  etc.,  even  after  the 
conversion  of  the  latter  to  Christianity.  They  enforce 
even  distance  pollution,  though  not  quite  to  the  same 
extent  as  Malayali  Hindus  do.  Iluvans  are  allowed 
admission  to  their  houses,  but  are  not  allowed  to  cook 
their  meals.  In  some  parts,  they  are  not  even  allowed 
to  enter  the  houses  of  Syrians. 

There  are  no  intermarriages  between  Syrians  of  the 
various  denominations  and  Latin  Catholics.  Under 
very  exceptional  circumstances,  a  Romo-Syrian  contracts 
a  marriage  with  one  of  Latin  rite,  and  vice  versa,  but  this 
entails  many  difficulties  and  disabilities  on  the  issues. 
Among  the  Latins  themselves,  there  are,  again,  no 
intermarriages  between  the  communities  of  the  seven 
hundred,  the  five  hundred,  and  the  three  hundred.  The 
difference  of  cult  and  creed  has  led  to  the  prohibition 
of  marriages  between  the  Romo-Syrians  and  Jacobite 
Syrians.  The  Jacobite  Syrians  properly  so  called,  St. 
Thomas'  Syrians,  and  the  Syro- Protestants  do,  however, 
intermarry.     The  Southerners  and  Northerners  do  not 


intermarry ;  any  conjugal  ties  effected  between  them 
subject  the  former  to  some  kind  of  social  excom- 
munication. This  exclusiveness,  as  we  have  already 
said,  is  claimed  on  the  score  of  their  descent  from 
the  early  colonists  from  Syria.  The  Syrians  in  general, 
and  the  Jacobite  Syrians  in  particular,  are  greater 
stricklers  to  customs  than  other  classes  of  Native 

We  have  already  referred  to  the  privileges  granted 
to  the  Syrians  by  the  Hindu  kings  in  early  times.  They 
not  only  occupied  a  very  high  position  in  the  social  scale, 
but  also  enjoyed  at  different  times  the  rare  distinction 
of  forming  a  section  of  the  body-guard  of  the  king  and 
the  militia  of  the  country.  Education  has  of  late  made 
great  progress  among  them.  The  public  service  has 
now  been  thrown  open  to  them,  so  that  those  who  have 
had  the  benefit  of  higher  education  now  hold  some  of 
the  important  posts  in  the  State.  In  enterprises  of  all 
kinds,  they  are  considerably  ahead  of  their  Hindu  and 
Musalman  brethren,  so  that  we  see  them  take  very 
kindly  to  commerce,  manufacture,  agriculture,  etc.  ;  in 
fact,  in  every  walk  of  life,  they  are  making  their  mark 
by  their  industry  and  enterprise.* 

The  following  additional  information  is  contained  in 
the  Gazetteer  of  Malabar.  "  The  men  are  to  be  distin- 
guished by  the  small  cross  worn  round  the  neck,  and  the 

♦  In  the  preparation  of  the  above  sketch,  the  following  authoriiies,  among 
others,  were  consulted  :  Sir  W.  W.  Hunter,  Indian  Empire  and  History  of  British 
India  ;  J.  Hough,  History  of  Christianity  in  India  ;  T.  Whitehouse,  Lingerings  of 
Light  in  a  Dark  Land  ;  G.  T.  Mackenzie,  Christianity  inTravancore  ;  F.  Day,  Land 
of  the  Perumauls ;  T.  Logan,  Manual  of  Malabar ;  Christian  College  Magazine, 
Madras,  Vol.  VI  ;  and  Judgments  of  the  Civil  Courts  of  Travancore  and  Cochin. 
To  the  bibliography  relating  to  the  Syrian  Christians  may  also  be  added  L.  M. 
Agur,  Church  History  of  Travancore,  the  Rev.  G.  Milne  Rae,  the  Syrian  Church 
in  India,  and  the  Rev.  W.  J.  Richards,  the  Indian  Christians  of  St.  Thomas.  The 
Malabar  Quarterly  Review,  VI,  i  and  2,  1907,  may  also  be  consulted. 


women  by  their  tali,  which  has  2 1  beads  on  it,  set  in  the 
form  of  a  cross.     Their  churches  are  ugly  rectangular 
buildings  with  flat  or  arched  wooden  roofs  and  white- 
washed facades.     They  have  no  spire,   but  the  chancel, 
which  is  at  the  east  end,  is  usually  somewhat  higher  than 
the  nave.     Between  the   chancel  and  the  body  of  the 
church   is  a  curtain,    which  is  drawn  while  the  priest 
consecrates  the  elements  at  the  mass.     Right  and  left 
of  the   chancel   are    two    rooms,    the    vestry   and   the 
sacristy.     At  the  west  end   is  a  gallery,  in  which  the 
unmarried  priests  sometimes  live.     Most  churches  con- 
tain three  altars,  one  in  the  chancel,  and  the  other  two 
at  its  western  ends  on  each  side.     There  are  no   images 
in  Jacobite  or  Reformed  churches,  but  there  are  some- 
times pictures.     Crucifixes  are  placed  on  the  altars,  and 
in  other  parts  of  the  churches.     The  clergy  and  men  of 
influence  are  buried  in  the  nave  just  outside  the  chancel. 
The  Syrian  Bishops  are  called  Metrans.     They  are  celi- 
bates, and  live  on  the  contributions  of  their  churches. 
They  wear  purple  robes  and  black  silk  cowls  figured  with 
golden  crosses,  a  big  gold  cross  round  the  neck,  and  a 
ring  on  the  fourth  finger  of  the  right  hand.     Bishops  are 
nominated  by  their  predecessors  from  the  body  of  Ram- 
bans,   who  are  men  selected  by  priests  and   elders  in 
advance  to  fill  the  Episcopate.     Metrans  are  buried  in 
their  robes  in  a  sitting  posture.     Their  priests  are  called 
Cattanars.     They  should  strictly  pass  through  the  seven 
offices  of  ostiary,  reader,  exorcist,  acolyte,  sub-deacon 
and  deacon  before  becoming  priests  ;   but  the  first  three 
offices  practically  no  longer  exist.     The  priestly  office  is 
often  hereditary,  descending  by  the  marumakkattayam 
system  (inheritance  in  the  female  line).     Jacobite  and 
St.  Thomas'  Syrian  priests  are  paid  by  contributions  from 
their  parishioners,  fees  at  weddings,  and  the  like.     Their 


ordinary  dress  consists  of  white  trousers,  and  a  kind  of 
long  white  shirt  with  short  sleeves  and  a  flap  hanging 
down  behind,  supposed  to  be  in  the  form  of  a  cross. 
Over  this  the  Jacobites  now  wear  a  black  coat.  Priests 
are  allowed  to  marry,  except  in  the  Romo-Syrian  com- 
munity ;  but,  among  the  Jacobites,  a  priest  may  not  marry 
after  he  has  once  been  ordained,  nor  may  he  re-marry  or 
marry  a  widow.  Malpans,  or  teachers,  are  the  heads  of 
the  religious  colleges,  where  priests  are  trained.  Jaco- 
bites also  now  shave  clean,  while  other  Syrian  priests 
wear  the  tonsure.  Every  church  has  not  more  than  four 
Kaikkars  or  churchwardens,  who  are  elected  from  the 
body  of  parishioners.  They  are  the  trustees  of  the 
church  property,  and,  with  the  priest,  constitute  a  disci- 
plinary body,  which  exercises  considerable  powers  in 
religious  and  social  matters  over  the  members  of  the 
congregation.  The  Romo-Syrians  follow  the  doctrines 
and  ritual  of  the  Roman  Catholics,  but  they  use  a  Syriac 
version*  of  the  Latin  liturgy.  Jacobites  and  St.  Thomas' 
Christians  use  the  Syriac  liturgy  of  St.  James.  Few 
even  of  the  priests  understand  Syriac,  and,  in  the 
Reformed  Syrian  churches,  a  Malayalam  translation  of 
the  Syriac  liturgy  has  now  been  generally  adopted.  The 
Jacobites  say  masses  for  the  dead,  but  do  not  believe  in 
purgatory ;  they  invoke  the  Virgin  Mary,  venerate  the 
cross  and  relics  of  saints  ;  they  recognise  only  three  sacra- 
ments, baptism,  marriage  (which  they  always  celebrate 
on  Sundays)  and  the  mass  ;  they  prescribe  auricular 
confession  before  mass,  and  at  the  mass  administer  the 
bread  dipped  in  the  wine  ;  they  recite  the  Eastern  form 
of  the  Nicene  Creed,  and  discourage  laymen  from  study- 
ing the  Bible.    The  Reformed  Syrians  differ  from  them  in 

*  The   Syriac   is  not  a  modern   Syriac  dialect,  but  is  very  like  the  ancient 


most  of  these  points.  The  Jacobites  observe  the  ordinary 
festivals  of  the  church  ;  the  day  of  the  patron  saint  of 
each  church  is  celebrated  with  special  pomp,  and  on  the 
offerings  made  on  that  day  the  priests  largely  depend  for 
their  income.  They  keep  Lent,  which  they  call  the  fifty 
days'  fast,  strictly  from  the  Sunday  before  Ash  Wednes- 
day, abjuring  all  meat,  fish,  ghee,  and  toddy  ;  and  on 
Maundy  Thursday  they  eat  a  special  kind  of  unsweet- 
ened cake  marked  with  a  cross,  in  the  centre  of  which 
the  karnavan  of  the  family  should  drive  a  nail,  and  drink 
a  kanji  of  rice  and  cocoanut-milk  (the  meal  is  said  to 
symbolize  the  Passover  and  the  Last  Supper,  and  the  nail 
is  supposed  to  be  driven  into  the  eye  of  Judas  Iscariot). 
"  Amongst  the  Syrian  Christians,  as  amongst  the 
Mappillas,  there  are  many  survivals  of  Hindu  customs 
and  superstitions,  and  caste  prejudices  have  by  no  means 
disappeared  amongst  the  various  sections  of  the  commu- 
nity. Southerners  and  Northerners  will  not  intermarry, 
and  families  who  trace  their  descent  from  Brahmans 
and  Nayars  will,  in  many  cases,  not  admit  lower  classes 
to  their  houses,  much  less  allow  them  to  cook  for  them 
or  touch  them.  Most  of  the  Syrians  observe  the  Onam 
and  Vishu  festivals  ;  the  astrologer  is  frequently  consulted 
to  cast  horoscopes  and  tell  omens ;  while  it  is  a  common 
custom  for  persons  suffering  from  diseases  to  seek  a  cure 
by  buying  silver  or  tin  images  of  the  diseased  limb, 
which  their  priest  has  blessed.  Similar  survivals  are  to  be 
noticed  in  their  social  ceremonies.  A  Pulikudi  ceremony, 
similar  to  that  of  the  Hindus,  was  commonly  performed 
till  recently,  though  it  has  now  fallen  into  disuse. 
Immediately  on  the  birth  of  a  child,  three  drops  of  honey 
in  which  gold  has  been  rubbed  are  poured  into  its  mouth 
by  its  father,  and  the  mother  is  considered  to  be  under 
pollution  till  the  tenth  day.     Baptism  takes  place  on  the 


fourteenth  day  amongst  the  Southern  Jacobites,  and 
amongst  other  divisions  on  the  fifty-sixth  day.  A  rice- 
giving  ceremony  similar  to  the  Hindu  Chorunnu  is  still 
sometimes  performed  in  the  fifth  or  sixth  month,  when 
the  child  is  presented  by  the  mother  with  a  gold  cross, 
if  a  boy,  or  a  small  gold  coin  or  taluvam  if  a  girl,  to  be 
worn  round  the  neck. 

"  Among  the  Jacobites  early  marriage  was  the  rule 
until  comparatively  recently,  boys  being  married  at  ten 
or  twelve  years  of  age,  and  girls  at  six  or  seven.  Now 
the  more  usual  age  for  marriage  is  sixteen  in  the  case 
of  boys,  and  twelve  in  the  case  of  girls.  Weddings 
take  place  on  Sundays,  and,  amongst  the  Northerners, 
may  be  celebrated  in  either  the  bride's  or  the  bride- 
groom's parish  church.  On  the  two  Sundays  before 
the  wedding,  the  banns  have  to  be  called  in  the  two 
churches,  and  the  marriage  agreements  concluded  in 
the  presence  of  the  parish  priests  (Ottu  kalyanam). 
The  dowry,  which  is  an  essential  feature  of  Syrian 
weddings,  is  usually  paid  on  the  Sunday  before  the 
wedding.  It  should  consist  of  an  odd  number  of  rupees, 
and  should  be  tied  up  in  a  cloth.  On  the  Thursday 
before  the  wedding  day,  the  house  is  decorated  with  rice 
flour,  and  on  the  Saturday  the  marriage  pandal  (booth), 
is  built.  The  first  ceremonial  takes  place  on  Saturday 
night  when  bride  and  bridegroom  both  bathe,  and  the 
latter  is  shaved.  Next  morning  both  bride  and  bride- 
groom attend  the  ordinary  mass,  the  bridegroom  being 
careful  to  enter  the  church  before  the  bride.  Now-a- 
days  both  are  often  dressed  more  or  less  in  European 
fashion,  and  it  is  essential  that  the  bride  should  wear  as 
many  jewels  as  she  has  got,  or  can  borrow  for  the  occa- 
sion. Before  leaving  his  house,  the  bridegroom  is  blessed 
by  his  guru  to  whom  he  gives  a  present  (dakshina)  of 


clothes  and  money.  He  is  accompanied  by  a  bestman, 
usually  his  sister's  husband,  who  brings  the  tali.  After 
mass,  a  tithe  (pathuvaram)  of  the  bride's  dowry  is  paid 
to  the  church  as  the  marriage  fee,  a  further  fee  to  the 
priest  (kaikasturi),  and  a  fee  called  kaimuttupanam  for 
the  bishop.  The  marriage  service  is  then  read,  and,  at 
its  conclusion,  the  bridegroom  ties  the  tali  round  the 
bride's  neck  with  threads  taken  from  her  veil,  making  a 
special  kind  of  knot,  while  the  priest  holds  the  tali  in 
front.  The  priest  and  the  bridegroom  then  put  a  veil 
(mantravadi)  over  the  bride's  head.  The  tali  should  not 
be  removed  so  long  as  the  girl  is  married,  and  should  be 
buried  with  her.  The  veil  should  also  be  kept  for  her 
funeral.  The  bridal  party  returns  home  in  state,  special 
umbrellas  being  held  over  the  bride  and  bridegroom. 
At  the  gate  they  are  met  by  the  bride's  sister  carrying 
a  lighted  lamp,  and  she  washes  the  bridegroom's  feet. 
The  married  couple  then  go  to  the  pandal,  where  they 
are  ceremonially  fed  with  sweets  and  plantains  by  the 
priest  and  by  representatives  of  their  two  families,  to  the 
accompaniment  of  the  women's  kurava  (cry),  and  in  the 
presence  of  the  guests,  who  are  seated  in  order  of  prece- 
dence, the  chief  persons  having  seats  of  honour  covered 
with  black  rugs  and  white  cloths  (vellayum  karimbada- 
vum),  traditionally  a  regal  honour.  The  bride  and  bride- 
groom are  then  led  into  the  house  by  the  bestman  and 
bride's  uncle,  the  bride  being  careful  to  enter  it  right  foot 
first ;  and  the  guests  are  feasted  in  order  of  rank.  It  is  a 
peculiar  custom  of  the  Syrian  Christians  at  these  feasts 
to  double  up  the  ends  of  the  plantain  leaves  which  serve 
them  as  plates,  and  is  supposed  to  be  symbolical  of  the 
royal  privilege  of  eating  off  a  double  plate.  Until  the 
following  Wednesday,  the  bestman  sleeps  with  the 
bridegroom  in  the  bridal  chamber,  the  bride  occupying 


another   room.     On   Wednesday    evening    comes    the 
ceremony  called  nalam   kuli,  or  fourth  day  bath.     The 
bridegroom   and  the  bestman,    who   are   in   the  bridal 
chamber,  lock  the  door  ;  the  bride's  mother  knocks  and 
begs  the  bridegroom  to  come  out,  which  he  at  last  does 
after  she  has  sung  a  song  (vathilturapattu)  celebrating 
the  attractions    and   virtues  of  the   bride.     The   bride- 
groom and  |)ride  then  bathe,  dress  in  new  clothes,  and 
go  to  the  pandal,  where  they  perform   paradakshinams 
round  a  lighted  lamp,  and  the  bridegroom  gives  cloths 
to  the  bride's  uncle,  mother,   and  grand-parents.     The 
married  couple  are  then  escorted  to  the  bridal  chamber, 
which  has  in  the  interval  been  cleaned  and  prepared  for 
them.     The  next  morning  they  have  to  go  to  the  bride- 
groom's or  bride's  house  as  the  case   may  be,  and  there 
eat  together  and  go  through  a  ceremonial  similar  to  that 
which  they  performed  on  the  wedding  day  in  the  other 
house.     This  concludes  the  marriage  ceremonies,  but  on 
Sunday  the  bridegroom  and   bride  should  attend  mass 
together  in  the  bride's  parish  church  if  they  were  mar- 
ried in  the  bridegroom's,  and  vice  versa.     Amongst  the 
Southern  Jacobites,    the   ceremonies   are   very   similar, 
but  the  dowry  is  not  paid  till  the  marriage  day,  or  till  the 
girl's  first  confinement.     Half  the  pathuvaram  is  paid 
to  the  priest  instead  of  a  kaikasturi,  and  the  bridegroom 
puts  a  ring  on  the  bride's   finger  during  the  marriage 
service.     After  the  church  service,  the  couple  go  to  the 
bridegroom's  house,  where  they  are  fed  ceremonially  by 
the  bride's  mother,   and  the   subsequent  feast  is  at  the 
expense  of  the  bride's  people.    On  Monday  morning,  the 
bridegroom    is  ceremonially  fed  by  the  bride's  mother 
in  the  bridal  chamber  (manavalan  choru),   and    in  the 
evening  there  is  a  ceremony  called  manavalan  tazhuk- 
kal,  in  which  |  the  bride  and  bridegroom  are  embraced  in 


turn  by  their  respective  parents  and  relations,  after 
which  there  is  a  feast  with  singing  of  hymns.  Before 
the  couple  leave  for  the  bride's  house  on  Thursday, 
there  is  a  big  feast,  called  kudivirunnu,  given  by  the 
bridegroom  to  the  bride's  people,  followed  by  a  cere- 
mony called  vilakku  toduga,  in  which  men  and  women 
sing  hymns  and  dance  round  a  lighted  lamp,  which 
they  touch  at  intervals.  Amongst  the  Romo-Syrians 
and  the  Reformed  sect,  the  marriage  ceremonies  have 
less  trace  of  Hindu  ritual ;  they  do  not  celebrate  wed- 
dings on  Sundays,  and  have  no  nalam  kuli  ceremony, 
but  a  tali  is  usually  tied  in  addition  to  the  giving  of 
a  ring. 

"  At  funerals  (except  amongst  the  Reformed  sect) 
it  is  usual  for  each  of  the  dead  man's  connections  to 
bring  a  cloth  to  serve  as  a  shroud,  before  the  body  is 
lowered  into  the  grave,  holy  oil  is  poured  into  the  eyes, 
nostrils  and  ears.  The  mourners  are  under  pollution, 
and  fast  till  the  day  of  the  second  funeral  or  pula  kuli 
(purification),  and  till  then  masses  should  be  said  daily 
for  the  dead.  The  pula  kuli  is  celebrated  usually  on  the 
nth  day,  but  may  be  deferred  till  the  15th,  17th  or  21st, 
or  sometimes  to  the  41st.  The  mourners  are  incensed, 
while  hymns  are  sung  and  prayers  offered.  Each  then 
gives  a  contribution  of  money  to  the  priest,  and  receives 
in  return  a  pinch  of  cummin.  A  feast  is  then  given  to 
the  neighbours  and  the  poor.  On  the  40th  day  there 
is  another  feast,  at  which  meat  is  eaten  by  the  mourn- 
ers for  the  first  time.  A  requiem  mass  should  be  said 
each  month  on  the  day  of  death  for  twelve  months,  and 
on  the  first  anniversary  the  mourning  concludes  with 
a  feast." 

To  the  foregoing  account  of  the  Syrian  Christians, 
a  few  stray  notes  may  be  added. 


It  is  recorded  by  Sir  M.  E.  Grant  Duff,  formerly 
Governor  of  Madras,*  that  "  the  interesting  body  known 
as  the  Syrian  Christians  or  Christians  of  St.  Thomas  is 
divided  into  several  groups  much  opposed  to  each  other. 
In  an  excellent  address  presented  to  me  they  said  that 
this  was  the  occasion  which,  for  the  first  time  after  ao-es 
of  separation,  witnessed  the  spectacle  of  all  the  different 
sects  of  their  community,  following  divergent  articles 
of  faith,  sinking  for  once  their  religious  differences  to  do 
honour  to  their  friend." 

Some  years  ago,  the  wife  of  a  District  Judge  of 
Calicut  asked  the  pupils  of  a  school  how  long  they  had 
been  Christians.  "  We  were,"  came  the  crushing  reply, 
"  Christians  when  you  English  were  worshipping  Druids, 
and  stained  with  woad."  More  recently,  the  master  at 
a  college  in  Madras  called  on  all  Native  Christians  in 
his  class  to  stand  up.  Noticing  that  one  boy  remained 
seated,  he  called  on  him  for  an  explanation,  when  the 
youth  explained  that  he  was  a  Syrian  Christian,  and  not 
a  Native  Christian. 

It  is  noted  by  the  Rev.  W.  J.  Richards  that  "at  the 
very  time  that  our  King  John  was  pulling  out  Jews' 
teeth  to  make  them  surrender  their  treasures,  Hindu 
princes  were  protecting  Jewish  and  Christian  subjects, 
whose  ancestors  had  been  honoured  by  Royal  grants  for 
hundreds  of  years." 

The  Southerners  say  that  they  can  be  distinguished 
from  the  Northerners  by  the  red  tinge  of  their  hair. 
A  man  with  reddish  moustache,  and  a  dark-skinned 
baby  with  brilliant  red  hair,  whose  father  had  red 
whiskers,  were  produced  before  me  in  support  of  the 

♦  Notes  from  a  Diary,  i88r— 86. 


As  examples  of  Old  and  New  Testament  names 
occurring,  in  a  changed  form,  among  Syrian  Christians, 
the  following  may  be  cited  : — 

Abraham,  Abragam. 

Joshua,  Koshi. 

Peter,  Puthros,  Ittiyerah,  Itte. 

Paul,  Powlos. 

John,  Yohan,  Sonanan,  Chona. 

Titus,  Tetos. 

Matthew,  Mathai,  Mathen. 

Philip,  Philippos,  Papi,  Eippe,  Eapen. 

Thomas,  Thoma,  Thommi,  Thommen. 

Joseph,  Ouseph. 

Jacob,  Yacob,  Chako 

Alexander,  Chandi. 

Samuel,  Chamuel. 

Mary,  Maria,  Mariam. 

Sarah,  Sara. 

Susannah,  Sosa. 

Rebecca,  Rabka,  Raca 

Elizabeth,  Elspeth,  Elia,  Elacha. 

Rachael,  Rachi,  Raghael,  Chacha. 
Syrian  Christians  take  the  name  of  their  father,  their 
own  name,  and  that  of  their  residence.  Whence  arise 
such  names  as  Edazayhikkal  Mathoo  Philippos,  Kun- 
nampuram  Thommen  Chandi,  and  Chandakadayil  Joseph 

I  have  seen  some  Syrian  Christian  men  tattooed 
with  a  cross  on  the  upper  arm,  and  a  cross  and  their 
initials  on  the  forearm. 

In  conclusion,  I  may,  for  the  sake  of  comparison, 
place  on  record  the  averages  of  the  more  important 
physical  measurements  of  Northerner  and  Southerner 
Syrian  Christians  and  Nayars. 



30  Syrian  Christians. 



40  Nayars. 





Cephalic  length            




Cephalic  breadth          




Cephalic  index  ..           




Nasal  height      




Nasal  breadth 




Nasal  index        ...         




It  may  be  noted  that,  in  his  '  Letters  from  Malabar,' 
Canter  Visscher,  in  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century, 
writes  that  the  St.  Thomas'  Christians  "  keep  very  strict 
genealogical  records,  and  they  will  neither  marry  nor  in 
any  way  intermingle  with  the  new  low-caste  Christians, 
being  themselves  mostly  Castade  Naiross,  that  is,  nobi- 
lity of  the  Nayar  caste,  in  token  of  which  they  generally 
carry  a  sword  in  the  hand,  as  a  mark  of  dignity." 

It  is  stated  by  E.  Petersen  and  F.  V.  Luschan  *  that 
"  probably  a  single  people  originally  occupied  the  greater 
part  of  Asia  Minor.  They  are  still  represented  as  a 
compact  group  by  the  Armenians.  The  type  resembles 
the  Dissentis  type  of  His  and  Riitimeyer ;  the  head 
extremely  short  and  high,  stature  moderate,  skin  dark, 
eyes  dark,  and  hair  dark  and  smooth.  It  extends  through 
the  S.  half  of  Asia  Minor,  N.E.  to  the  Caucasus,  and 
E.  to  the  Upper  Euphrates.  The  Tachtadschy  people, 
a  hill  people  living  without  serious  mixture  with  other 
peoples,  give  measurements  closely  like  the  Armenians." 
[The  cephalic  index  of  Armenians  is  given  by  E. 
Chantre  t  as  85-86.] 

♦  Recherches  Anthropologiques  dans  le  Caucase,  IV,  1S87. 
t  Reisen  in  Lykien,  Melyas,  und  Kibyratis,  II,  18S9. 



In  the  following  table,  the  averages  of  some  of  the 
more  important  measurements  of  the  Syrian  Christians 
and  Tachtadschy  people  are  recorded  : — 










Syrian  Christians,  Northerner     ... 
Syrian  Christians,  Southerner    ... 






Madras:  Printed  by  Thb  Superintendent,  Government  Press.^'  / 

University  of  California 


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